Diagnosis and treatment of mastitis in mares

I. F. Canisso, G. Podico, R. E. Ellerbrock

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Infection and inflammation of the udder (mastitis) is a common condition affecting all domestic mammals, but it appears to be less prevalent in mares than in dairy cows and dairy goats. The seemingly reduced incidence of mastitis in mares can be partially explained by the smaller size and relatively concealed location of the mare’s udder, coupled with a smaller storage capacity than cows and goats. Mastitis can affect lactating, peripartum, dry mares, mares at dry-off or prepubertal foals. Common clinical signs include swollen mammary tissue, abnormal mammary gland secretion, fever and anorexia; less common signs are hindlimb lameness and a swollen mammary vein. On rare occasions, mastitis pathogens can severely affect the nursing foal and mares may develop fibrotic tissue and consequent agalactia in the side(s) or quarter(s) affected. Based on the clinical presentation, mastitis can be classified as acute or chronic, and clinical or subclinical. Diagnosis is based on the clinical signs aided with aerobic culture and cytological evaluation of the gland secretion. In addition, these ancillary tests can also be used to assess prognosis and duration of treatment. Mares suffering from mastitis may present neutrophilia and hyperfibrinogenaemia. Treatment for mastitis includes antimicrobial therapy (systemic and/or locally), nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, frequent milking and cold hosing with/without hot-packing applied on the gland. While the frequent monitoring of mares after weaning and reducing food intake should be part of common practices at weaning, cleaning of the udder, control of insect populations and frequent milking of mares with a foal unable to nurse can also aid in preventing mastitis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)320-326
Number of pages7
JournalEquine Veterinary Education
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • horse
  • mammary gland disproportion
  • mastitis
  • udder enlargement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Equine


Dive into the research topics of 'Diagnosis and treatment of mastitis in mares'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this