Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Bleeding from Lower Neck or Jugular Groove Area

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

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

    Very large vessels (jugular vein and carotid artery) lie in the jugular groove on left and right sides of the equine neck. Wounds to these vessels can produce life-threatening blood loss in a very short period of time. That said, once bleeding is stopped (and if other important structures in this area are undamaged) wounds to this area generally heal well.

    WHAT TO DO

    Call your vet immediately and do not panic. Until your vet arrives, apply controlled pressure or a pressure bandage to stop or slow the bleeding. Keep your horse confined and calm.

    Generally it is much easier to control bleeding in severed veins (low pressure blood flow towards the heart) than in severed arteries (high pressure blood flow away from the heart). With some exceptions, veins tend to be located closer to the skin while arteries are buried more deeply under muscle and other structures. Bleeding from a vein is darker red and running, without pulsation. Arterial bleeding is bright red, squirting and often pulsing.

    WHAT YOUR VET DOES

    Your vet may tie off (ligate) or repair a large vessel in the neck if it is lacerated. An important aspect of veterinary first-aid in situations of major blood loss is assessment and stabilization of the horse’s circulation.

    Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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