we have a 22 year old geilding who has an extremly swollen sheath he does not have a problem urinating we have tried soaking with warm and cold water mixed with epson salts and also clear water nthing seems to be working his appetite is great and no fever he does not seem to be in pain. any sugesstions?
A swollen sheath can be due to several different factors. First of all, many horse have very large sheaths due to fat collection in this area so if the problem has been present for a while and is slowly getting worse, it could just be fat, especially if he is fat in other places. Other causes would be tumors in the prepuce or on the penis or infection in the area. I would rec. contacting your vet to sedate the horse and do a complete exam of the area. If there are masses in the sheath, your vet can aspirate the masses with a needle to help get a diagnosis. The sheath can also swell with congestive heart failure or renal disease so your vet may need to do some blood work and perform a cardiac exam
The most common reason a gelding's sheath is swollen is that it is dirty AND there is a bean in the 'blind pocket' of his penis. The beans can get quite large, and even impede the urine flow to the point of being dangerous. I saw a golf ball size bean come from a small pony this past summer! Pour little thing could hardly walk, let alone urinate :-(
If you are unable to properly and safely clean your horses sheath, have your Vet sedate him and show you how it is done. It takes more than squirting water up there to properly clean it!
Dr. Judd is right, most likely a dirty sheath and as you know these need to be cleaned regularly. Only some horses will let you do this without sedation. It helps to use an over the counter "sheath cleaner" that has cleaner / softeners in it.
You can get hurt doing this - it is not uncommon for a horse to kick you!
If you are unsure please have your veterinarian do this under sedation. Then discuss with the doctor how often this needs to be done!
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