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


Lump, Bump, Growth on Back Side of Ear, or Near Base of Ear


Although uncommon, a variety of masses and tumors can develop on the equine ear. The tissues of the ear are very difficult to work with surgically. There is little loose skin and the supporting cartilage is right under the skin. This cartilage is easily damaged by disease or overly aggressive treatment. Once a mass has grown large on the ear, it may be very difficult to remove without permanent disfigurement.

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your role


What To Do

Due to these concerns, contact your vet at the first sign of a tumor or growth on the outside of your horse's ear. Take a photo when you first notice a problem and send it to your vet.

What Not To Do

Do not take a "wait and see" approach because smaller growths on the ear are much easier to deal with than larger ones.

your vet's role

Following a general physical exam your vet will carefully assess the ear and surrounding areas. Sedation for a proper ear examination may be necessary as this area can be sensitive.

Your vet assess lumps here as they do elsewhere, trying to identify a specific anatomic structure that is associated with the bump (is it associated with cartilage of the ear, skin or in between?) and trying to determine the type of tissue that forms the bump. They do this through examination of the bump and comparison to similar bumps they have seen in practice.

In order to make a definitive diagnosis though, tissue must be taken in the form of a biopsy, or the whole mass can be removed surgically and a sample of it submitted to the laboratory for identification.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • Does your horse seem normal otherwise?
  • When did you first notice this problem?
  • Are there masses or lesions elsewhere on the horse?
  • Can you send me a photo?
  • What are the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE)?

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP