Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Lump, Bump, Growth on Leg

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 you notice lameness in addition to this sign.
  • If the mass is large, painful or seems to be growing rapidly.

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

  • If you are convinced that the injury is minor and you notice no lameness or other problem.
  • If the mass is small, non-painful or seems to be only growing slowly.

Skin lumps and bumps are common and can be tumors, cysts, abscesses, infections, healed flap wounds, granulomas, foreign bodies, bruises, hematomas, seromas and a variety of other conditions. But traumatic injury is the most common cause for a lump or bump on the leg. A bump overlaps with a “swelling” here.

You can give a small bump a little time to see if it resolves on its own, but you should call your vet with any questions or concerns. Whenever lameness accompanies a lump or swelling, it increases the urgency of the problem. A photograph can be very helpful to your vet in determining the nature and severity of a lump or bump. Look elsewhere on the body for similar lumps and document those if they exist.

WHAT TO DO

Assess the horse’s general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), paying particular attention to the specifics of the swelling and whether it is painful. It is especially important to assess lameness at the walk.

WHAT YOUR VET DOES

Your vet assess lumps here as they do elsewhere, trying to identify a specific anatomic structure that is associated with the bump (is it associated with joint, bone or tendon?) and trying to determine the type of tissue that forms the bump. They do this through examination of the bump and comparison to similar bumps they have seen in practice.

In order to make a definitive diagnosis though, tissue must be taken in the form of a biopsy, or the whole mass can be removed surgically and a sample of it submitted to the laboratory for identification. The critical questions a veterinarian asks when dealing with a lump on the leg is “What is the specific anatomy involved? and “Is the horse lame?” Radiography and ultrasound are very helpful diagnostics in determining the nature of a lump or bump on the limb.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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