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


Sheath Smells


An unpleasant odor coming from the sheath may or may not be a sign of an underlying problem. A normal sheath has some odor. In most cases, noticeable sheath odor will improve somewhat with sheath cleaning.

  • Code Orange

    Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours
    • If sheath swelling or a sheath lesion is obvious, in addition to this sign.
  • Code Yellow

    Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment
    • If the horse seems normal other than this sign.

your role


What To Do

Evaluate the sheath looking for masses, sores or other injury or trauma. Feel for swelling, pain to manipulation of the sheath, heat, or evidence of excessive discharge. If you normally clean your horse's sheath yourself, you can try to do that and see if the odor improves after a few days.

If the problem is not resolved with cleaning or you notice any abnormality or problems in addition to the odor, contact your vet with your findings and concerns.

your vet's role

Your vet will usually sedate the horse to drop the penis for a thorough examination and cleaning.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • Do you notice any abnormalities of the penis or sheath?
  • Do you notice any swelling of the sheath?
  • What are the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE)?
  • Do you routinely clean the horse's sheath?

further reading & resources


Helpful Terms and Topics

Written, reviewed or shared by experts in equine health

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP