What is Nose Bleed?
Epistaxis is the medical term for this condition. Although frightening, a sudden nose bleed is not always serious. Though much will depend on the extent of the blood flow, a nose bleed in a horse is not an uncommon occurrence. A nosebleed may result from your horse scratching a fly bite or after banging his head on the fence in his paddock. Some horses may experience the occasional nose bleed after exertion.
If blood is pouring from two nostrils and is very heavy, this should be checked by a veterinarian to determine the cause. There may be a growth inside the nostril that has burst. Other nose bleeds stop within a short time and may be the cause of a foreign body lodged in the nasal area. An injury to the nasal passage can cause a flow of blood. If your equine companion is experiencing recurring nose bleeds or the flow of blood is heavy and continuous, call the veterinarian.
The sudden appearance of blood pouring from your horse’s nostrils can be disturbing for an owner. The nose bleed may vary from a trickle to a severe outpour; an evaluation by an equine veterinarian is essential in many cases.
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Symptoms of Nose Bleed in Horses
If the bleeding is heavy and continues to pour out call your veterinarian immediately as heaving bleeding from both nostrils can indicate internal bleeding from the lungs
- Blood from one or both of the nostrils
- Blood in a trickle
- Blood of a heavier flow
- Guttural pouch mycosis can cause repeated nose bleeds; it produces heavy, constant bleeding and requires surgery to control this condition
- Exercise induced pulmonary hemorrhage comes from your horse’s lungs; it is a deep red in color and very profuse
- Moderate on off nose bleeds are often caused by a foreign object injuring the nasal passages
- Trauma induced nose bleeds occur after a heavy knock to your horse’s head
Causes of Nose Bleed in Horses
- Sometimes when a veterinarian passes a tube through the nostrils your horse may move suddenly causing the tube to damage the delicate lining of the nostrils
- A foreign object may be trapped in the nasal area and may be accompanied by coughing
- It may be caused by a bleeding polyp which is a soft growth in the nostril
- Occasional tumors located in the respiratory tract can be a cause
- A hard knock to the head may cause a heavy nose bleed
- Your horse rubbing his nose to stop an itch
- A fungal infection of the carotid artery
Diagnosis of Nose Bleed in Horses
A trickle of blood may not mean much, but any volume of blood pouring from the nostrils should be given immediate attention by your veterinarian. Your horse is a large animal with a large volume of blood coursing through their system. Therefore, a nose bleed can display frightening amounts of blood. Keep your horse calm and apply an ice pack or wet cold towel to the area just below your horse’s eyes. This will cool the area where the blood may be coming from and slow the flow. If the bleeding doesn’t stop within ten minutes, then it is advisable to call the veterinary specialist.
A skull radiography can show where the problem is originating from and blood tests will help diagnose the condition. Never pack your horse’s nostrils to stop the flow of blood, your horse may panic as they breathe through their noses and it can suffocate your horse.
Treatment of Nose Bleed in Horses
If the bleeding is a one-off event and the blood flow is light, calming your horse and using a cold compress to stem the flow may help. For heavy nose bleeds lasting for more than ten minutes, it would be best to call in an expert to check the health of your horse. Your veterinarian will be able to tell assess the damage and advise of further treatment. If it is coming from the guttural pouch your horse will require surgery to control the bleeding. This condition is rare but can be deadly.
The method used by your veterinary care giver will involve passing a fiber-optic endoscope up the nose and into the pouches. This will enable them to see where the blood is coming from and they will be able to initiate treatment from there. Other reasons for epistaxis, such as in the case of an exercise induced event or a polyp in the nasal cavity, will be assessed and treated accordingly through medical management or surgery.
Recovery of Nose Bleed in Horses
Usually a nose bleed will stop after a short time, especially if it was caused by your horse rubbing its nose or if a foreign object like a piece of tough grass has pierced the tissue within the nasal passage. Wiping the blood off so that it doesn’t attract flies will help your horse to heal. Cool compresses on your horse’s face may assist the bleeding to stop.
Management is really all about keeping your horse under observation to see if any other symptoms are present, and to see if the bleeding starts again. Allowing your horse to relax and cutting back on any heavy exercise will assist your horse to heal. For surgery after-care, your veterinarian may prescribe medication to calm your horse and to prevent any infection. Rest and confinement to the stable may be required until healing has occurred. Usually, recovery is good with little down time although it may take time before your horse is up to heavy racing or activity.
Nose Bleed Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
my horse has had 2 nose bleeds in the past 4 months. its bright red bloodonly from one nostril. theres not a lot of blood its more like a trickle. once its ran a little bit it stops.
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My 23yr old mare has had a few drops of fresh blood coming from only her left nostril for 36 hours. The blood if very watery. I see no lesions, cuts, scraps, anywhere that I can observed within flashlight depth. I can dry the nostril area and about a minute later a drop of bloody water will reappear. There is no mucus, no sign of trauma on her head. She is no longer in heavy work. Her humor is fine. She is eating normally. She doesn't seem sick. She is not coughing. I rode lightly yesterday and she breathed normally during a 20 minute walk. Work did not increase blood flow. I've checked teeth, mouth, gums, and can't seen any abscess. Her last floating was 3 months ago. Is this something I should call the vet about immediately? How long should I let it go before I call the vet.
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i observed a epistaxis, but a drop or two for the first time, so wanted a suggestion as to how to treat it ? The horse was treated for protruding bone in its leg recently
There are many causes of nosebleeds in horses, some serious others not. The most common cause of nosebleed is a knock to the head, usually being kicked by another horse. Other possible causes may be due to tumours, foreign body, infections or exercise induced pulmonary haemorrhage which can be a lethal condition. Keep an eye on Sosa and give some stable rest, if the nosebleed recurs, speak to your Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
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