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


Bleeding from Ear


Bleeding from the ear either indicates traumatic skull fracture, bleeding from the ear canal or from the external ear. Horses sometimes rub an itchy ear until it bleeds. Masses, usually sarcoids, will sometimes become irritated or break off and bleed.

  • Code Red

    Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours
    • If this problem seems severe and has come on suddenly.
    • If you suspect the horse might have suffered head trauma.
  • 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.
    • If bleeding is minor and the horse seems fine otherwise.
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your role


What To Do

Assess your horse's general health with the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), paying particular attention to the horse's eyes, their attitude and appetite, and the ability to walk and move normally. If your horse yields to pressure on the halter and will allow you to examine their ear, you can gently do so. Share your findings and concerns with your vet.

What Not To Do

Do not insert or attempt to pack the horse's ear(s) with anything to stop the bleeding.

your vet's role

Following a general physical exam your vet will carefully assess the ear. Sedation for a proper ear examination may be necessary. In some cases, a cause is not found. In that case, symptomatic treatment might be needed for a time before more aggressive and possibly expensive diagnostics are employed.

Note, a horse with a skull fracture generally shows other signs associated with a traumatic accident. The horse may also be down and may or may not be responsive. In this case, call your vet immediately.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • Does the bleeding appear to be from deep inside the ear?
  • Do you think the horse injured it's head?
  • Do you notice other signs of disease or injury?
  • Do you notice anything inside the horse's ear?
  • Do you notice signs of other problems?
  • Is the horse standing or down?
  • Was the horse involved in an accident that you know of?
  • How much bleeding is there?
  • What are the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE)?

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP