Equine Horse Baby Warts
 By Winniefield Park   •   24th Jul 2015   •   4,068 views   •   0 comments
Equine Horse Baby Warts

Has your horse been kissing toads? Are you very hesitant to kiss your horse’s nose because it’s covered in ugly lumps and bumps? Don’t worry. A bad case of warts is fairly common, especially on young horses under eighteen months old. In fact, they’re commonly called baby warts. You might also hear them called grass or milk warts although they have nothing to do with either. They’re a bit like teenage acne for horses - annoying and unsightly, and there’s a small chance they could get painful. But otherwise, they’re harmless.

Warts, or viral papillomata on horse’s noses are caused by a virus, just as human warts are. They’re greyish or skin colored, and may be slightly scaly or cauliflower like, leaving otherwise soft noses entirely unkissable. They may appear on the horse’s muzzle, eyelids or legs - anywhere where the skin is thinly haired.

Treatment to make the warts disappear is rarely necessary. They usually go away on their own. Once they’re gone, they’re often gone for good. It’s rare that a horse will get two bouts of warts during their life and it’s rare to see them on older horses, because their immune system, built up by fending off one bout, can easily fend off a second.

Baby warts seem to pop up quite suddenly. You might notice a few lumps and then a few days later, the horse’s whole nose seems covered. They also seem to go away as spontaneously. The virus that causes the warts is spread when a foal nurses, horses bump noses, or can be picked up from objects that a horse with the virus touches, such as fences, waterers, feeders or stall walls.

Warts can get uncomfortable for a horse if they thickly cover a very flexible area. This can cause the skin to crack, leaving it sore and weeping. Warts can break off and bleed as well. If this happens, there is a slight chance of infection. An application of antibacterial cream, or even a rinse of saline solution can help prevent infection until the area is healed.

Most people don’t call the vet when they see baby warts crop up on their horse. But, sometimes wart-like sarcomas can appear elsewhere on the body or pinnal acanthosis can cause wart-like lumps in the ears. These two conditions mainly affect older horses. So, if you see a suspicious lump on your older horse, have the vet check it next time their out. They’ll likely take a biopsy, a small sample of the tissue, and examine it under a microscope to find out exactly what it is.

While it may not be necessary to call the vet about baby warts, there are many folk remedies that people swear by. The simplest, but most painful sounding is to take a pair of pliers and break a few of the warts until they bleed. As discomforting as this sounds, some people think this helps trigger the immune system to attack the wart causing virus.

Another folk remedy, and one my grandmother suggested for human warts, is to break a stem of milkweed and apply the white sap to the warts. I’ve not tried this so can’t comment on its effectiveness. Often, by the time we try folk remedies, or even vet prescribed drugs, the warts are already starting to go away.

There are antivirals that your vet can give you to try, but this probably will only be a benefit if your horse is headed for the show ring, where presentation is important and others won’t want to catch your horse’s icky virus. Or, if the warts are causing a lot of discomfort for your horse. They can also be removed surgically, but this can leave scars.

So, don’t despair if your horse looks like it's been kissing toads. In a short time, it’s nose will be kissably soft and smooth again as the warts disappear as mysteriously as they appeared.
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