Unexplained Swelling

I have a 16-year-old gelding that I found lying down with a swollen rear leg. I assumed that he had gotten his leg hung in the fence, but the next morning, I noticed that his front leg diagonal from his affected back leg was also swollen, and I noticed what appeared to be a cut inside his nostril. The next day all four legs were swollen and his nose and lower lip were very swollen and were dripping blood. Could this be a snakebite?               Jorge Bernal Jr., South Texas

A snakebite is not out of the question, but unlikely given all four legs and muzzle are swollen. An allergic reaction, purpura hemorrhagica, plant toxicosis (hoary alyssum), or other possibilities might be prudent to investigate. Blood from the nostril is seen with snakebites, but it’s also seen with a low platelet count in the blood, anticoagulant poisoning, and other maladies, especially severe swelling of the nose region and rubbing of the face if it itches. Snakebites are extremely painful to touch on the horse, purpura hemorrhagica is moderately so, whereas other things, especially allergies, are typically not. Have your veterinarian check him out as soon as possible.

About the Author

Edward D. Voss, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM

Edward D. Voss, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM, is a practitioner based in Gilbert, Ariz.

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with FREE weekly newsletters from TheHorse.com. Learn More

Free Newsletters

Sign up for the latest in:

From our partners