Definition: Sarcoids in Horses are a benign type of skin cancer that affects some horses. Sarcoids are thought to caused by a virus infection and can occur in all types, breeds and colours of horses and ponies in all parts of the world.
Sarcoidsshould not really be described as warts as they are not caused by the wart virus papilloma.
The sarcoid growths are locally invasive in the areas of skin surrounding the sarcoid but fortunately they do not spread to the horse or pony's internal organs as can sometimes happen with malignant equine tumours.
Some poniesand horses do become quite severely affected by sarcoids.
Sarcoids can grow on almost any part of horse or pony's body.
The most usual sites for sarcoids are the areas of the horse that have thin skin and / or little or no hair - for example around the muzzle, eyes and sheath.
There are 6 different types of equine sarcoid: Occult, Nodular, Verrucose, Fibroblastic, Mixed and Malevolent.
The fibrolastic type of horse sarcoid grows much more quickly than the other forms and usually occurs on the head, legs or abdomen of a horse or pony.
The verrucous or warty form of equine sarcoid grows slowly.
This type of sarcoid has a dry hardened, crusty appearance. IA verrucous sarcoid can be flat or stands up on a stalk.
Sarcoids increase in number during the summer months, this is possibly due to being spread by flies and insects, and they tend to increase in size during the wintertime.
Once a horse has developed one sarcoid, it is extremely likely that he will get more growths of a similar nature.
There are several methods of treatment for a horse with sarcoids:
Surgical removal, cryosurgery or freezing, radiation, homeopathy, BCG Injection, laser surgery and chemotherapy are the most common methods of removing sarcoids from a horse or pony.
Care must be taken with Homeopathic and natural treatments as some substances such as Aloe Vera and Tea Tree oil are contra-indicated and can be dangerous.
The homeopathic remedy Thuja has been reported as being a successful remedy for sarcoids where other treatments have failed - especially for the warty type of sarcoid.
The generally recommended dose is 3 x 1m tablets twice a day for one week, followed by a break of a week, then dosing for another week until the growths disappear.
Thuja cream is another method of treatment and can be applied every other day.
Silica is a homeopathic remedy recommended to benefit the nodular type of sarcoid.
Accidental injury, biopsy or surgical interference with a sarcoid growth on a horse may aggravate the growth and cause agressive regrowth.
Ideally a horse should be treated for sarcoids at an early stage when the lesions are small and before they have spread.
Some people have been reporting successly getting rid of sarcoids by applying toothpaste. This has become popular following forum and facebook posts by users claiming that a sarcoid has been successfully cured using this method.
However many vets warn against using this treatment, saying that it is dangerous as it can irritate the tumour and make it worse and delays the horse receiving proper veterinary treatment.
About 10 per cent of horses recover from sarcoids naturally - which is what may lead people to believe that treating sarcoids with toothpaste treatment actually works.