What causes warts on a horse’s mouth, and how do you treat them? Equine Wellness turned to an expert for the answer.

Warts are caused by a virus, usually one of the equine papilloma viruses. These can be spread from horse to horse, but when we look at them from a holistic perspective, only the horses that are susceptible to them will get them. Warts are usually unsightly hard lumps around the muzzle and nose area. They can occur in other areas, but much less commonly.

From a homeopathic perspective, warts are a common occurrence after vaccination. The body’s immune system has a tendency to react when it is stressed by vaccines. Often the reaction is in the form of a skin eruption of some sort, with warts and tumors being seen. As the horse’s immune system matures, it usually becomes strong enough to prevent them happening. There are several ways to deal with warts.

1: Just ignore them. Often they will go away and not cause any problems. But, to me, it is an indication that the immune system has over-reacted to some stress or stimulus. It might indicate that the next round of vaccines be preceded by a blood test for titers to those diseases rather than stressing the immune system with many vaccines. And it might be a wake-up call to help improve your horse’s health through diet and supportive herbs, supplements and homeopathics.

2: Use homeopathics to improve the immune response and help heal the warts. One of the most common remedies to start with is Thuja Occ. You can use any potency, usually a 30C, and give 6-8 pellets once a day for 3 days or so. Then wait a few weeks, and repeat it if needed. If there is no result after the second the treatment (2-3 weeks later) then there are other remedies depending on what the warts look like: whether they are tender, bleeding, spreading, dry or moist. Causticum, Sulphur, and Calc Carb are all possible remedies, to be used in a similar way. If the warts are very difficult to clear up, consult a veterinary homeopath as there are many remedies that could be used.

3. An old-fashioned but valuable technique—squeeze a few of the warts. This may be done with a clean pair of forceps (pincher like devices vets use for lots of things, and your vet can do it if you are squeamish or the horse is uncooperative). You can use strong tweezers also or clean needle nose pliers. The idea is that the virus or the infected tissue is release into the blood stream and the body’s own immune system goes to work. In a way, this is like a self-vaccination, a much more natural trigger to the immune system. If this fails, go back to number 2 above.

Dr. Joyce Harman is a veterinarian specializing in acupuncture, chiropractic therapy, and a variety of holistic methods. She has “written the book” on saddle fitting, with two volumes, The Horse’s Pain Free Back and Saddle Fit Book for western and English horses. She also has a booklet to help introduce people to homeopathy for horses, The First Aid Guide to Homeopathy for Horses. Her goal is to help educate the equine industry about natural, holistic and integrative medicine. Got a question for Dr. Harman? Just leave us a comment on our Equine Wellness Facebook Page. She will be answering 1-2 questions every week!


Joyce Harman graduated in 1984 from Virginia Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. Her practice is 100% holistic, using acupuncture, chiropractic, herbal medicine and homeopathy to treat horses to enhance performance and those with a variety of chronic conditions, with an emphasis on those with Lyme Disease. Her publications include the Pain Free Back and Saddle Fit Books, which are the only books written independently of a saddle company. She maintains an informative website: www.harmanyequine.com.