Equine Cellulitis and Lymphangitis

By Dr. Garrett Metcalf, DVM

If you are a horse owner and have never experienced a horse with cellulitis or lymphangitis you need to consider yourself lucky. This common condition that affects the lower limbs of horses is a frustrating and rarely a life threatening condition for horses. Cellulitis is a term used to describe when a bacterial infection is migrating and spreading under the skin throughout tissue planes. Lymphangitis is when the bacterial infection spreads deeper into the lymphatic vessels. There are technical differences between these two diagnoses but for the sake of this article they will be considered synonymous because the treatment is essentially the same.


One part of the frustration about these conditions is that we really do not know why or exactly how it starts. The best-educated guess of how this occurs is by some small injury or injuries to the lower limb that allow bacteria into and under the skin.

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