Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Jugular Vein Lost or Damaged

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

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

    There are two jugular veins, found in the right and left jugular furrow of the lower third of the side of the neck. The jugular veins carry blood from a horse’s head back to its heart.

    A jugular vein can be damaged by poor intravenous (IV) injection technique, or irritation from an IV catheter used during veterinary treatment. A hard or “corded” jugular vein indicates blockage of the vein by a clot (thrombosis). If you try to hold off a clotted vein, you will notice no normal fill upstream. Over the long-term, a clotted jugular vein becomes less and less obvious. Someone trying to hold off the vein will simply not see anything.


    Assess the horse’s general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), paying particular attention to whether the horse also has a fever. Examine the area. If the area is cord-like, hard and non-painful, veterinary treatment may not be needed. If however, there is heat and swelling in the area, or your horse exhibits a pain response when the area is pressed, your vet may need to examine your horse. Regardless, contact your vet with your findings and concerns.


    Your vet assesses this area using physical exam. Ultrasound is very helpful for visualizing the specific nature of the problem. Horses can survive and thrive having lost a single jugular vein.

    Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP


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