Katie Hennessy

What’s Growing on My Horse?

Daily observation and grooming will allow you to notice any changes in the appearance of your horse’s skin. Some growths you may notice can be squamous cell carcinoma, summer sores, granulation tissue, Pythium, warts, and sarcoids.

During the summer months, pink skin is exposed to longer hours in the sun which can make it more prone to sunburn. Unfortunately, repeated bouts of sunburn can lead to cancerous growths such as squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). The best way to avoid sunburn is to keep sun sensitive horses indoors during the day with turnout at night, apply zinc oxide sunscreen to pink noses and faces while outside or have the horses wear a UVA/UVB fly mask with a nose cover.

Summer sores and granulation tissue are usually the sequel to a wound or skin abrasion that is trying to heal or has been contaminated by flies. Cleaning and covering small wounds or abrasions shortly after they occur can reduce the chance of developing these outcomes. Pythium is similar in appearance but is caused through contamination of a wound with a fungal like pathogen. If you have a wound that is not healing or is getting worse, you’ll need to contact your vet. 

Wart and sarcoids usually present at masses or lumps that don’t go away. 

Often your veterinarian can narrow down the most likely cause of the growth but definitive diagnosis requires a biopsy. Depending on the cause of the growth, the treatment can vary greatly. Diligent observation can allow you to catch any growth while it is small and easier to treat. Contact your veterinarian if you have any concerns or questions regarding your horse’s skin.

This column is sponsored by Polk Equine, and the opinions expressed herein may not reflect those of CFAN or of its advertisers.

BIO: Dr. Katie Hennessy graduated from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine in 2008 with a degree in large animal health and equine medicine. She completed an advanced internship at The Equine Medical Center of Ocala and is currently the owner and practicing veterinarian at Polk Equine. Her expertise ranges from small and exotic creatures to large animals, specializing in equine medicine.

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