Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Lump, Bump, Growth on Sheath or Penis

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.

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

  • If you consider this a chronic and relatively mild problem that is not changing rapidly.

A horse’s penis and sheath may develop a variety of lumps, bumps or growths. This is especially common in older horses. A bumpy mass within the sheath may merely be an accumulation of smegma, the pasty material naturally produced by the sheath. Smegma usually is dark gray to black, but in pink-skinned horses it can be orange to pink.

Accumulation of smegma at the end of the penis, a “bean”, is removed during a routine sheath cleaning. Lumps and bumps felt within the mass of the sheath can also be tumors. The most common of these are melanomas (in gray horses) or squamous cell carcinoma in lightly pigmented horses.

WHAT TO DO

Assess your horse’s general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE). Also assess the penis and sheath as well as you can and share your findings and concerns with your vet. If you normally clean your horse’s sheath, then do so. A photo of a growth may be helpful to your vet to determine the urgency of an exam.

WHAT YOUR VET DOES

Routine veterinary inspection of this area is important because tumors and other disease of the sheath are relatively common, especially in older horses. Vets often tranquilize horses before cleaning their sheath to relax the penis and make the process easier. Tranquilization allows much better visualization of the penis and sheath.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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