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Extension > Horse Extension - Ask an Expert > How do I treat sarcoids?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

How do I treat sarcoids?

Q: I have a horse that has 4 small Sarcoids (pencil eraser size at the bottom of the ear). I put tree tea oil on them and thought they were gone, but over the winter they have come back. Do you have any info about Sarcoids? Specifically where they come from, how to treat them, nutrition information (if related), and are they genetic?

A: First, work with your local veterinarian to make sure your horse has sarcoids. Your local veterinarian should also be part of the treatment plan. Sarcoids are the most common skin tumor in horses and can be hard to cure. Sarcoids come in many different shapes and sizes, and the smaller ones are usually easier to cure. If you notice the sarcoids starting to grow larger, it is important that you start treating them immediately as they can get larger very quickly.

Sarcoids develop after exposure to cow pox virus (warts). Certain horses are probably genetically predisposed to getting sarcoids or are at a higher risk for developing sarcoids. There are multiple treatments that have been studied, and several treatments are effective. However, sarcoids frequently need repeated treatment as they can come back (as you've experienced).

I am not aware of any nutritional factors that lead to sarcoids or help in their treatment. For your specific situation, the sarcoids sound small, but are likely one large sarcoid under the skin with little areas that pop-up. I would recommend cryotherapy (liquid nitrogen), CO2 laser, or the drug Aldara. I'm not sure what is available in your area (in terms of freezing or burning the sarcoids), but because the sarcoids likely have tendrils, you might get the best results with the drug Aldara. Aldara is a prescription cream you can apply at home. Based on our research with Aldara, we recommend treating the sarcoids three times a week for the best outcome. Keep in mind it may take four months or longer to finish the treatment.

By Erin Malone, DVM, University of Minnesota

The information given is for educational purposes only. Reference to commercial products or trade names is made with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by University of Minnesota Extension is implied.


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