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Daniel Cochren
Daniel Cochren,
Category: Horse
Satisfied Customers: 1362
Experience:  Veterinarian/Owner at Self
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My 23 year old Hackney mare is exuding fluid from her

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My 23 year old Hackney mare is exuding fluid from her swollen udder. It is not mastitis as it is pink in colour and she is not, or has never been, in foal. I feel that it is uncomfortable rather than painful for her as she lets me touch it. My vet saw it and couldn't say what it was but to try a course of bute and see if that did the trick. I tried 2 5 day courses with a week in between them. The edema is now spreading along the belly and in the top of the leg. The other udder is now beginning to enlarge. Could this be a viral infection or an allergy ? Her environment has not changed nor her food. She was in excellent condition for her age but has now lost her top line as I have been reluctant to ride her. I have wormed her again with ivermectin for a 700 kg horse. She is losing her back muscles. Can you possibly shed any light on this.

Good Morning Christine, and thank you for your question.

I’m sorry to hear about your mare’s ongoing condition. As to your question about a possible viral cause, this is unlikely, however I would not rule out the possibility of an allergic reaction, although as this has been occurring for quite some time, this would also be low on my rule-out list. I’d like to ask you a few questions so we can perhaps get a better idea of the possible cause.

1): You noted that this started out as a small swelling. Where exactly was this initial swelling, how large was it, and did you notice and type of skin wound associated with the swelling?

2): Does she get any regular type of exercise?

3): Did the Bute regimen seem to help the condition at all?

4): Is she eating and drinking normally? Is she having normal urination and bowel movements?

5): How long ago did you notice that she was losing the tone in her back muscles, and has this been a drastic change?

Thanks in advance for your answers, and I’m looking forward to hearing back from you.

-Dan C., DVM.

Hi Christine:

Just checking to be sure that you received my questions, and hopefully they are clear to you.

Thanks again,

-Dan C., DVM.

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
One udder was slightly swollen but it did not seem to bother her. I always clean between the teats when grooming. There was no wound present. At that time she was ridden daily for a short while - say 20 mins and turned out during the day. I stopped riding her when the swelling started to get bigger. My vet saw her on Jul 4th and suggested bute which made no difference. She is normal in all respects apart from the swellings.and back muscles. I assumed that these had gone because of the non riding. This is quite a drastic change. She was in great condition for her age now she looks like an old brood mare !!

Thanks for getting back to me.

In the majority of cases that are similar to Baldwins Obsession’s, the clinical signs that you are observing are often related to excess inflammation. During the inflammatory process, the blood vessels become “leaky”, in a sense, and serum leaks from the vessels into the surrounding tissues. Of course, gravity takes over and the serum collects in the lower abdomen causing the edema that you have described. Often, an anti-inflammatory (Bute or Banamine) and some mild exercise will help to relieve the condition.

I am somewhat concerned that her edema is not resolving, and seems to be getting worse. There are other reasons for this type of edema, and one of the most common is liver compromise. As she is 23, and you have been noticing other sudden changes in her musculature, etc., I would strongly recommend that you have her Vet perform some bloodwork, including a CBC, full Serum Chemistry and Fibrinogen. I would also recommend collecting a sample of the fluid from her udder and having it submitted for analysis, to rule out the possibility of an infectious process contributing to her condition. All of this would be a good starting point to get to a diagnosis.

Thanks again and please let me know if you have any other questions. Also, if you have the time, please let me know the results of her bloodwork, and what her vet has to say.


Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your time, Would there be any other signs that could point to the liver ?

At times, if the condition is severe enough, the gums and whites of the eyes may appear slightly yellow, or “jaundiced”. That is the most common external sign.

Thanks again, and I look forward to hearing of her results!


Customer: replied 2 years ago.
That is what I thought. Eyes and gums seem normal. It's very frustrating. I've been around horses for over 50 years and never seen anything like this. Maybe I have been lucky with all my others. Thanks again and I will let you know the resulting diagnosis.

Thanks Christine. I appreciate it. Best of luck, and I’ll be thinking good thoughts for the both of you!

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