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Swollen Sheath On Senior Gelding

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I have a question about an older (20's I think) gelding that belongs to the BO's sister.

This gelding is retired and in pasture storage. He is pretty much ignored.

I noticed his sheath was swollen a few months ago and told BO who said would inform sister.

I think this would be more just considered edema as there is no sign of heat or infection - feels like a full water balloon - not sensitive to touch - he does seem to be able to drop and urinate although with perhaps a little discomfort, but that could just be age.

With the help of a friend I put the gelding in the wash stall and tried to clean his sheath. I say try because, although he stood like a rock and seemed to enjoy the warm water, he absolutely would not drop and I couldn't grab him - had my arm up past the elbow- lol -

He was a perfect gentleman and I did loosen and pull out some gunk.

My friend offered to medicate the horse - but although I was comfortable cleaning the sheath, and only because the horse was perfectly calm about it, I would never ever medicate, especially an older horse - that the vet can do.

The condition hasn't gotten better- but not worse either.... The horse seems otherwise healthy. Not lethargic at all, and has good weight.

I used to work at a trail stable with plenty of senior horses and have never seen this before, so just wondering if others have seen this? It seems to be just fluid build up. Or if I should bug the BO again to have his sister do something with the old guy?

Thanks!!

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Well there could be a variety of things.

good to hear that you tried cleaning his sheath. Did you get the bean out from the tip of his p enis? I'd probably go in there and wash again just to be sure you get everything.

I have also heard that a lot of senior horses get edema on their sheath/bellys in the older days. It's often because of lack of movement. That can either be due to pain, or in a smaller paddock, etc.

Also I have heard that too much protien that a senior can't digest anymore can build up in the belly/sheath area of seniors.

I would personally get a vet out to evaulate the horse.

Edited by DiluteMe

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I have a 40 year old gelding who has done this for the past several years. Especially in the summer, less so when it gets cold. Neither of my vets could give me any breal answer for it, and cleaning regularly isn't any help.

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20 is not old for a horse these days. Next time the vet comes out, have him sedate the horse and clean his sheath properly. In the meantime, get a small sponge and clean it yourself since you were able to get your arm up there anyhow.

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Thanks so much for the responses -

Not my horse - so having the vet out to check over or for sheath cleaning is up to the owner. I was just trying to see if I could make him more comfortable in case that was the issue.

Sounds like this is more age related and he could definitely be cushings... He's actually probably late 20's, possible 30's, could be older... Apparently **** on wheels back in the day - enough that he still has some street cred around the barn - Supposedly hard to catch and handle, but I've never had a problem with him.

They also feed some rich alfalfa mix hay here - so a protein issue could definitely make sense. The senior trail horses I knew definitely weren't getting rich feed.

I think I'll not really worry about it as he seems otherwise fine. But I'll keep a eye on him.

Thank You!!!

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I have a 40 year old gelding who has done this for the past several years. Especially in the summer, less so when it gets cold. Neither of my vets could give me any breal answer for it, and cleaning regularly isn't any help.

Same thing here, mine's a 37 YO gelding.

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Cushing's disease will also cause sheath swelling.

Thanks CVM. Since he shows no other sign of Cushings, hadn't thought to check for it.

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One of my friends has an aged horse that began to have a swollen sheath. She called the vet and found out - thru bloodwork, etc. - that he was having a kidney problem. The vet has him on some meds (?) and with a different diet, he's still hanging in there. As for the alfalfa.....I'd hesitate to give an aged horse "rich" hay - but, preferably a grass hay. My former mare was overfed by a nutso BO - without my knowledge and given - along with her usual hay - buckets of soaked alfalfa cubes to "put weight on her". Needless to say, she foundered and eventually had to be put down.

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