Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Lump, Bump, Growth on Muzzle

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 results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) in the resting horse indicate fever (Temp>101F/38.3C), or heart rate greater than 48 BPM.
  • If the mass is large, painful or seems to be growing rapidly.

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.

There are a variety of lumps and bumps that can appear on a horse’s muzzle. As with bumps appearing elsewhere, the possible diagnoses include traumatic swelling, wound infections, tumors, cyst, abscesses, or an inflammatory reaction to a foreign body. Gray horses can develop melanoma here. A firm bump on the side of the muzzle could also be an atheroma (false nostril cyst). Growing horses commonly have pale colored warts that suddenly appear here.

WHAT TO DO

Assess the horse’s general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), taking note of the rectal temperature, and look and feel for bumps elsewhere.

Gently press on the bump to determine whether it feels well-defined within the tissue or blended into it, moveable within the tissue, hard or soft, painful or not. Take a photo of the bump and send it to your vet for discussion.

WHAT YOUR VET DOES

Your vet may be able to diagnose the underlying cause simply by examining a lump in this location. However, additional diagnostics may be needed to reach a definitive diagnosis.

For small bumps on the face, vets often use “excisional biopsy”, meaning that we surgically remove the entire mass and then send the tissue off to the lab to reach a diagnosis. At that point, your vet may recommend any appropriate follow-up treatment.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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