Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Swelling of Jaw or Under Jaw

Code Red - Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours

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

Code Red - Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours

  • If the horse has no appetite and is obviously depressed.
  • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) in the resting horse indicate fever (Temp >101F/38.3C) or heart rate greater than 48 BPM.
  • If the horse seems to be having difficulty eating, in addition to showing this sign.

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

  • If this is the only sign you notice. The horse seems well to you otherwise.
  • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) suggest the horse is otherwise normal.
  • If the swelling is mild or moderate, and not increasing rapidly.

Trauma to a horse’s face that results in a swollen lower jaw is common. Kicks from other horses can result in a fractured jaw or severe bruising, either of which can cause swelling and difficulty chewing. Dental conditions like abscessed molars (cheek teeth) can also result in swelling of the lower jaw and overlying muscles.

Strangles, a highly contagious disease caused by Streptococcus equi, often appears as severe swelling usually behind or under the jaw in the space between the two bones of the jaw. This is often accompanied by a fever, nasal discharge and cough.

WHAT TO DO

Until your vet arrives, if the cause of the swelling is unknown, treat the horse as contagious and isolate it. Most swellings here that are caused by infection are accompanied by a fever.

Assess your horse’s general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), paying particular attention to whether the horse has a high temperature. Assess the area of concern wearing gloves due to the possibility of Strangles.

When assessing this area, keep in mind that the lower jaw, like yours, consists of two bones that are joined at the chin. Between those two sides of the mandible lies the floor of the mouth, lymph nodes, salivary glands and a variety of other structures. On the outside of each of the jawbones lies a heavy, thick sheet of muscle (the masseter) involved in chewing.

Contact your vet with your findings and concerns.

WHAT YOUR VET DOES

Your vet will try to determine whether the swelling is a traumatic injury or a contagious infection that might affect other horses.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

CONTACT US

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Sending