Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Lump, Bump, Growth on Jawbone or Under Jaw

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 swelling is large, painful or growing rapidly.
  • 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.

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.
  • If the mass is small, non-painful or seems to be only growing slowly.

The structures under and behind the jaw include the left and right jawbones, and the structures in-between, the lymph nodes, salivary gland, and large vessels. All of these structures can suffer from injury or illness that results in a well defined lump or bump.

Fractures (from a kick or fall), tumors, cysts, granulomas, foreign bodies, hematomas, dental or oral conditions can all appear this way.

However, hard bumps along the jawbone itself may be normal in young horses (a bony reaction associated with tips of the tooth roots).

WHAT TO DO

Assess the horse’s general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), paying particular attention to attitude and appetite, and whether your horse also has a fever.

If possible and it is safe to do so, assess the horse’s mouth while wearing gloves. Carefully look and feel around and behind the jaw for other swelling or drainage. Look for obvious signs of injury. Can you feel the lump or bump? If so, is it soft or hard? Is it symmetrical? Is it along the jaw bone on left or right, or is it associated with the softer tissues between the jaw bones? If possible, take a photo.

Share your findings and concerns with your vet.

Since this observation can be associated with Strangles (an infectious disease), wear gloves when handling the horse and use isolation measures until more is known.

If the lump or bump is draining, or if your horse also has a fever consider placing them in quarantine to reduce exposure to other horses until your vet makes a diagnosis.

WHAT YOUR VET DOES

Your vet uses clues from the horse’s general health in combination with careful assessment of the location and characteristic of the lump to determine the nature of the problem.

Other diagnostics, like biopsy or needle aspirate are used to determine the tissue type. Ultrasound and x-ray may also be helpful.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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