What you see. The starting point for addressing any equine health related issue is your observation.


Bleeding from Mouth


Bleeding from the mouth usually is an indication of a wound to the inside of the mouth or the tongue. Horses that have a history of either falling forward or suffering other impacts to the face often bite their tongues or cut their lips. Horses that pull back when tied with a bridle, or lose their rider and run loose. Stepping on the reins cause the bit to cut into the tongue and bleed.

Rarely, bleeding from the mouth is a sign of a systemic blood clotting problem. In this case, it is often accompanied by blood loss from other body orifices, or other signs of severe illness.

  • Code Red

    Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours
    • If the horse seems not quite right, or eating less than normal in addition to this sign.
    • 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 you are concerned by the size and severity of the wound.
    • If bleeding seems excessive to you.
  • Code Orange

    Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours
You also might be observing
Very Common
Less Common
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your role


What To Do

Assess your horse's general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), paying particular attention to attitude, appetite, heart rate and rectal temperature. Assess the mouth (wear gloves) as well as you can, looking for the source of the bleeding. Check both nostrils and ears for bleeding. Contact your vet with your findings and concerns.

What Not To Do

Do not tie horses with bridle reins. Always tie with a halter.

your vet's role

Your vet assesses overall health to rule out body wide bleeding problems, then examines the mouth to find the source of the bleeding. Some mouth wounds should be repaired while many will heal well without treatment.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • When did you first notice this?
  • Is the horse eating, drinking and behaving normally otherwise?
  • Can you see a wound?
  • What is the horse's age, sex, breed and history?
  • Do you notice bleeding out of other areas, nostrils, mouth, eyes, ears, anus, vulva or penis/sheath?
  • How severe does the bleeding seem?
  • Where does the bleeding seem to be coming from?
  • What are the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE)?

Diagnoses Your Vet May Consider

The cause of the problem. These are conditions or ailments that are the cause of the observations you make.

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Treatments Your Vet May Recommend

A way to resolve the condition or diagnosis. Resolving the underlying cause or treating the signs of disease (symptomatic treatment)

Very Common
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Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP