First blood

If your horse experiences a nose bleed, it may be a sign there’s something amiss.

Epistaxis is a fancy term meaning ‘nosebleed’.  Bleeding may occur from one or both of your horse’s nostrils and can originate from anywhere in the respiratory system from the nasal passages, sinuses, guttural pouches… right down to the lungs. Most cases are a one-off and due to minor damage inside the nose, like a human nosebleed. However, if there’s a large amount of blood produced or if bleeding recurs. you should seek advice from your vet. 


There are a number of potential causes, from the mild and self-limiting to those which can be life threatening – most are in the former category so don’t worry! But it’s important to be aware of any causal agent to help you and your vet decide the significance of an episode. 

Possible causes include…

  • head trauma;  
  • exercise induced pulmonary haemorrhage (EIPH);  
  • foreign bodies; 
  • respiratory tract infection; 
  • tumours or growths;  
  • fungal infection; 
  • latrogenic (trauma to the lining of the nasal passage).


If possible, make notes of when episodes occur. Your vet may ask questions such as: has your horse suffered from a nosebleed previously; how much blood has been lost and did it originate from one or both nostrils; has there been any trauma to the head; has your horse undergone any intense exercise or travelled recently; whether there has been a respiratory infection circulating on the yard where your horse is kept and has your horse been behaving in a strange manner recently?

After a history has been taken, your vet will probably perform a full clinical examination. Often a diagnosis cannot be made in the field and further tests may take place. These may include the use of an endoscope camera, x-rays, sinus exploration, blood tests and high-quality imaging techniques such as computed tomography and MRI.


If your horse is experiencing a nosebleed, little can in reality be done. Make sure you put your horse into a stable, keep them quiet and calm to avoid elevating their blood pressure. If the bleeding does not stop within 10-20 minutes or if your horse is distressed or behaving abnormally, call your vet immediately.  

Dr Kate Maxwell BSc (Hons) BVSc MRCVS GPCert(EqP)
Severn Edge Vets


Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on linkedin
On Key

Related Posts

Sponsor welcomes plans for fans

Shrewsbury Town fans have been left feeling optimistic following the decision by the Government to allow supporters back into football grounds. The numbers allowed in

Festive fun on the farm

Park Hall Countryside Experience has released tickets for its brand new Christmas event – ‘Elf and Safely.’ Admission to the farm near Oswestry will include

Virtual Christmas lights switch-on

The Glaze family have been bringing festive cheer to the Broseley community for 25 years, raising more than £30,000 for several local charities and community

Take a screen break

Technology advice company techtimeout is challenging people to take a break from their laptops, tablets and phones for a day. The business has dubbed December

Nursery’s lockdown effort hailed

A Bridgnorth nursery has received a congratulations card from the Lord-Lieutenant of Shropshire in recognition of remaining open during the lockdown earlier this year. Little