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


Wound to Muzzle, Nose or Nostril


As horses forage and interact, they naturally place their muzzles in harm's way. For this reason, wounds to this area are common. Like other face wounds, wounds to the muzzle usually heal well unless they are complicated by a foreign body or infection.

That said, the best cosmetic outcomes can still be expected when these wounds are promptly surgically repaired. Certainly, if a wound seems severe or large, there is a loose flap of skin, or the skin folds that make up the normal alignment and function of the muzzle or nose seem disrupted, then it should definitely be assessed by your vet.

  • Code Red

    Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours
    • If you wish to have the best functional and cosmetic outcome, no matter the cost.
    • If the wound is large or causing the horse distress.
  • 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.

your role


What To Do

Assess the horse's general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), and look for other wounds. Lift the lips to be sure that there is not obvious injury inside the mouth or involving the front teeth. Assess the wound, looking for any evidence of debris or a foreign body. If possible, gently cleanse the wound with dilute antiseptic solution or straight saline. If you have a doubt about the severity of the wound, take a picture and send it to your vet for their assessment.

What Not To Do

Do not apply any antibiotic products to the injury, unless advised to do so by your vet.

your vet's role


Your vet assesses the wound and determines whether surgical repair is the best option. Horses that suffer repeated wounds to the lips and face may be falling. Sleep deprivation and other sleep disorders may need to be considered.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • Can you send me a photo?
  • Describe the wound to me in detail?
  • Does the wound appear fresh to you?
  • When do you think the wound occurred?
  • Are there wounds elsewhere?
  • How severe does the wound look?
  • Are there flaps of skin that you think could be repaired?
  • How is your horse's attitude and appetite?

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP