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Discussion on Swollen Teats

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Carol Tank-Day
Username: Caroltd

Post Number: 5
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Thursday, Apr 10, 2003 - 3:13 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

My daughter's 14 year old maiden mare has had swollen teats for the last month. While the teats are not terribly full there is a definite change, but no discharge. She was in heat in February, has had absolutely no contact with a stallion or any pregnant mares. We have had the horse for two years, have seen her in heat several times and this is the first time we have seen this condition. Is this common?
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Username: Dro

Post Number: 8110
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Friday, Apr 11, 2003 - 5:54 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hello Carol,
Yes, in fact so common it has a horseman's term: witch's milk. We frequently get such reports of swollen udders but without an examination we cannot judge whether problem is serious or minor. First is to consider that the swelling may be similiar to swelling anywhere, see Equine Diseases: Skin Diseases: Diagnosing and Assessing Swellings in Horses for suggestions.

There is no doubt fat is stored in the teats, so if the horse is getting fatter and this change occured concurrently that may be it. This being the mammary gland inappropriate lactation can be added to the list in the article. It has been hypothesized that some of these are due to phytoestrogens. As the name implies there are chemicals in the forage that act like estrogens. I believe all common forages have phytoestrogens in them but legumes like clover and alfalfa are the highest.

Some signs this may need a look by your vet are:
1) Continues to worsen or remains and does not improve
2) Hot or painful
3) Fever
4) Not feeling well or eating well

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