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Lymphangitis in Horses

Horse lymphangitis is defined as inflammation of the lymph vessels. This inflammation normally happens after infection has entered the body through a cut or wound. Lymph vessels get damaged and can no longer drain lymph fluid from the affected area. This also means that the body cannot fight infection as well as it can with a healthy lymph system.

Lymph vessels are part of the lymphatic system just like blood vessels (arteries and veins) are part of the blood system that is pumped by the heart. Instead of blood it is tissue fluid or lymph (water like fluid) that flows in lymph vessels. Lymph is not pumped around the body was is squeezed along by the action of muscles. The lymphatic system drains excessive tissue from all parts of the body. When this fluid is drained away it removes toxins and breakdown products from damaged areas. The fluid is filtered through lymph nodes which also have an important role in fighting infection.


Swelling in a limb after a cut or infection. The limb may increase in size by 2-3 times. Yellow fluid may seep from the skin in several places and the horse will be in quite a lot of pain and unable to move properly. Infection in the affected area may cause the body temperature to rise.


Your vet will treat this condition with antibiotics, non steroidal antibiotics and advise you to give the horse gentle exercise. If the condition is very bad he may also inject diuretics to help the body rid itself of excess fluids.

Once a horse has had the condition lymphangitis is quite likely to recur.

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