What is cellulitis in horses?

Updated May 31, 2017

Cellulitis is the swelling of tissue just beneath a horse's skin that generally occurs as the result of an infection. The condition most often occurs in a horse's leg, but can show up anywhere on its body.


Cellulitis often occurs as a result of a wound to the horse's skin. Cuts, scrapes or bruises can cause swelling, particularly if an open wound becomes infected with bacteria.


The most obvious symptom is the swelling, but the affected area will also feel abnormally warm and firm to the touch. The condition causes pain in the horse, so if it shows up in the legs it can cause a limp and affect mobility. The affected area may also show a reddish discolouration. In extreme cases involving infection the horse will develop a fever.


Cellulitis is generally treated with the application of warm compresses to the affected area. In case of infection, a veterinarian will prescribe antibiotics. Anti-inflammatory medicine may also be administered.

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About the Author

Tim Altork is an experienced writer and editor whose work has appeared in the "Randolph Leader," the Beacon newspapers and the "Sunday Paper." He also writes and edits online for His expertise is in sports, but he has written on all topics, from politics to social events. Altork received a bachelor's degree in political science from Valdosta St. University.