Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Lump, Bump, Growths, Crusts on Inner Surface of Ear, or in Ear

Code Orange - Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours

Code Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

Code Orange - Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours

  • If the horse seems particularly distressed by the problem.

Code Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

  • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) suggest the horse is otherwise normal.
  • To ensure a correct diagnosis, have your vet examine the horse.

Many problems that affect the internal surface of the ear go unnoticed because of the dense long hairs that protect the inner surface. Pale warty or crusty growths (aural plaques) inside equine ears are common and are thought to be caused by a Papilloma virus. Generally, these growths do not cause much harm, although they can become so large that they can eventually cause discomfort and cause horses to resent handling of the ears and bridling.

Aural plaques can also be confused with other, less common but more serious conditions that could become locally invasive, such as sarcoids. Biting midges and gnats sometimes attack the inner surface of the ear, causing tiny blood spots at the bite sites. A strange condition called dentigerous cyst causes pus-like drainage to come from the area near the base of the ear.

WHAT TO DO

Assess your horse’s general health with the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), and if your horse will allow it, you can gently examine their ear. Consider whether the skin is flaky or crumbly, and painful to the touch. Take a photo of the problem if possible. Share your findings and concerns with your vet.

WHAT YOUR VET DOES

Following a general physical exam your vet will careful assess the ear and surrounding areas. Sedation for a proper ear examination may be necessary. Some conditions require prompt treatment, whereas others may simply be monitored (aural plaques). In some cases, a cause is not found. In that case, symptomatic treatment might be needed for a time before more aggressive and expensive diagnostics are employed.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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