Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Drainage from Anywhere on Body

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

Code Orange - Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours

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

  • If the horse has no appetite and is obviously depressed.
  • If you notice significant swelling or pain at the site.

Code Orange - Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours

  • If you have other questions or concerns about the horse.

Drainage or discharge is different from true bleeding in that the fluid coming from the site is not blood. It might be pus, clear discharge, reddish or yellowish fluid. It may be thick or thin, smooth or lumpy. Normal drainage often results soon after a horse sustains an uncomplicated wound. Drainage also results from an embedded foreign body, a ruptured abscess, or an infected puncture wound. A less likely reason for drainage is a skin condition.

Pigeon Breast and Strangles are conditions typified by abscess formation and drainage. Strangles abscesses are usually found around the throat and under the jaw but abscesses can form anywhere on the body. Multiple areas of drainage drying on the skin can be seen in certain skin conditions.

WHAT TO DO

Assess your horse’s general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) paying particular attention to their temperature, attitude and appetite. Describe the color, consistency and smell of drainage. Take a photograph Share your findings and concerns with your vet.

Treat mysterious drainage or discharge as potentially contagious to other horses until you know otherwise, and take action to isolate the horse and contain the discharge.

WHAT YOUR VET DOES

Your vet will assess the general health of the horse and try to identify the source of the draining tract(s) through examination, probing, ultrasound, radiography, and culture for bacterial and fungal organisms.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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