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


Lump, Bump, Growth, on Mouth, Lips, or Chin


Lumps, bumps and swellings around a horse's lips or mouth are common, and can result from a variety of causes. Abscesses and swellings can develop from an infected wound, traumatic injury. Sharp seed heads grass awns and other foreign bodies can embed themselves in the lips, causing hard swellings or abscesses.

A bit can cause trauma to the corners of the mouth, which can become cracked, painful and swollen. In gray horses, the most common thickening of the lips and corner of the mouth is melanoma, which appears as non-painful thickening of the lips. The lips and muzzle are also a common area for snake bite.

  • Code Orange

    Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours
    • If this problem seems severe and has come on suddenly.
  • Code Yellow

    Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment
    • If this seems to be a slowly changing problem not seeming to cause the horse much difficulty.

your role


What To Do

Assess your horse's general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), and assess the mouth (always wear gloves). Press the swelling. Is it soft or hard, painful or not? Take a photo of the swelling to share with your vet and look for swellings elsewhere on the body. Contact your vet with your findings and concerns.

What Not To Do

Do not attempt to "lance" lumps without veterinary guidance.

your vet's role

Your vet can usually narrow down or determine the cause from an initial exam. However, they may suggest diagnostics such as a biopsy or needle aspirate if needed.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • How old is the horse?
  • If what you feel is thickening of the lips, is this horse a gray?
  • Does the area seem painful when pressure is applied to it?
  • When did you first notice this problem?
  • What is the horse's age, sex, breed and history?
  • What does the problem look and feel like?

Diagnoses Your Vet May Consider

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

Very Common
Less Common
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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