Does Your Horse Have Warts?

Perhaps you’ve owned or known a horse with warts. If so, you were likely seeing a visible manifestation of equine papilloma virus. This infectious herpes virus can cause bumps known as equine warts on the exterior of a horse’s muzzle and inside his mouth, and sometimes on his ears, legs,
and genitals.

Warts on a horse's nose
Photo by Nichole Chirico

This virus is species specific, appearing only in horses. It’s not contagious to humans but is contagious to other horses. It’s usually transmitted from horse to horse by direct contact, though it can survive outside of a host for long periods of time. It can be spread by fomites (inanimate objects that, once contaminated with pathogenic bacteria or viruses, can transfer disease to another host).

Read More: Sarcoid Tumors

It occurs most commonly in horses from 6 months to 5 years of age and remains in the horse’s system providing lifelong immunity and antibody protection. There’s no evidence that either sex or any breed is more susceptible to infection from this virus. 

There’s no vaccine available for equine papilloma virus, but warts are usually harmless and resolve themselves within a matter of a few months. 

Stop the Spread

quarantine 
Keep affected horses in quarantine away from other horses to avoid any direct contact.

biosecurity
Always use separate water buckets, feed bins, and brushes to avoid spreading any kind of viruses. 

tack and gear
If your horse has warts, keep all of his tack and equipment separate from other horses and sanitize items after every ride. 

Left photo by Elenathewise/stock.adobe.com; middle photo by Wirestock/stock.adobe.com; right photo by Maria/stock.adobe.com

Tips for Treating Warts

In most cases, equine warts require no treatment. However, they may interfere with your horse’s eating, as they tend to form on the muzzle and in the mouth. It’s also possible for the warts or skin around them to crack and bleed, and even become infected. Monitor the warts, keep them and the surrounding skin clean, and if needed, apply topical antiseptics or moisturizing lotions. If the warts are infected or causing discomfort, a veterinarian may remove them.

Read More: Common Equine Skin Problems

Share
Related Articles
HR_24BON_Health_Electrolyte-Supplementation_01
Electrolyte Supplementation
Thoroughbred yearlings in pasture at sunset
Green Grass Galore
Tip of the Week: How To Transition Your Horse to Green Grass
Horse with colic lie down and sleep outside
Quick Tips for colic Prevention
Colic Prevention Tips
Insektenplage. Schönes Pferd frei zwischen gelben Blumen auf einer Wiese wird von Insekten attackiert
Spray Smart
Savvy Spraying: Select the Right Fly Spray for the Task at Hand
Newsletter
Receive news and promotions for Horse & Rider and other Equine Network offers.

"*" indicates required fields

Name*
Country*

Additional Offers

Additional Offers
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.