What exactly are horse sarcoids? The different sarcoid types and should you buy a horse with sarcoids
All horse owners need to learn what causes horse sarcoids, how your vet can treat them and what to consider if you’re thinking of buying a horse with sarcoids.
Equine sarcoids, sometimes referred to as angleberrys, are the most common skin tumour of the horse.
They are classified as benign but can invade local tissues. Benign tumours do not spread throughout the body.
Some parts of your horses body are more susceptible to sarcoids than others.
These include the eyelids, limbs and the underside of the body. In male horses they can occur on the inside of the sheath and on the penis.
The site and position of horse sarcoids is very important in regards to performance, and lesions in the eyelid and girth region can be very irritating. They can cause annoying problems when fitting tack.
Equine Sarcoids are often very aggressive, and are likely to re-appear if removed.
They do not metastasize (spread) and rarely disappear without treatment.
So, What are Equine or Horse Sarcoids?
They are locally invasive tumours of the skin, which can remain small and dormant for many years before undergoing change and rapid growth.
A sarcoid involves fibroblasts and six forms of horse sarcoid have been recognised.
Fibroblasts are the cells responsible for producing connective tissue.
1. Occult Sarcoids:
This type is found on the head, neck, brisket and groin. They appear as hairless areas of slightly thickened skin, and may contain small nodules. Occult sarcoids usually progress slowly, but if damaged may rapidly develop into one of the more aggressive types.
2. Verrucous Sarcoids (warty):
These look like warts, with a grey crusty surface. They are most commonly seen on the head, neck and groin. They are usually slow growing until they are damaged. They may be surrounded by a patch of abnormal skin (occult sarcoid)
3. Nodular Sarcoids:
Around the eyes or in the groin are common sites for this type of sarcoid. They appear as a firm nodule underneath the skin. Damage to the overlying skin is likely to cause it to become more aggressive and transform into the fibroblastic form. Sometimes the skin overlying the nodule may split and the nodule may be expelled.
4. Fibroblastic Sarcoids:
This is an aggressive ulcerated mass, that can be confused with granulation tissue. It often appears at the site of previous wounds or results from one of the less aggressive forms of sarcoid being damaged (either accidentally or by surgery).
5. Mixed Sarcoids
A combination of any of the other types. Eventually they become more aggressive as they change into the fibroblastic type.
6. Malevolent Sarcoids
This form is rare, but has been reported on the face, inside the thigh and at the elbow. It consists of multiple nodular or fibroblastic sarcoids which invade the lymphatic vessels. It can occur without any previous history of sarcoids, but more commonly results from repeated damage to other forms of sarcoid.
Before you consider buying a horse with sarcoids there are several things you should consider:
- Remember that sarcoids are unpredictable:
A solitary sarcoid may remain unchanged for the entire life of the horse. Or it may suddenly become aggressive.
- Consider where the sarcoids are:
If the sarcoids are in an area where tack will damage or aggravate them, then it is possible that they will cause future problems. If treatment becomes necessary, it may be expensive and may not be that successful.
- Think about insurance :
Some insurance companies will not cover treatment for sarcoids that were present before the insurance policy started. Consider; if the horse does eventually need treatment you may have to pay for it yourself.
- Think About When you Are Selling On :
Although you may be happy to live with a horse with sarcoids, a future prospective buyer may not. If you want to sell your horse and the sarcoid has progressed or is in a problem area, you may have difficulty selling. The potential sales price you obtain may be considerably less than you would normally expect.