Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Drainage from Neck

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

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

  • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) suggest the horse is otherwise normal.

Look at this image of the neck to see where the important anatomy lies. Drainage from the neck may occur due to an injury caused by an infected injection site, embedded foreign body, a ruptured abscess, or a 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.


Assess your horse’s general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) paying particular attention to their temperature, attitude and appetite. Take a photo of the drainage, and 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 contain it.


Your vet will assess the general health of the horse and try to identify the source of the draining tract through general examination, probing of the wound, ultrasound and radiography. Drainage coming from sites near the critical structures lower in the neck could indicate involvement of those structures.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP


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