SHEATH CLEANING: Itís a dirty job
By Dr. Kaitie Kirkpatrick
Sheath cleaning is one of those dirty jobs that many equine owners prefer to not think about, yet it is an essential task in your equine health care program if you own a male horse. Routine cleansing of the sheath is important in the overall health and well-being of your gelding or stallion.
So what is sheath cleaning anyway? Geldings and stallions naturally acquire smega, a collection of debris and dirt, in and around their prepuce which is commonly called a sheath. The build-up of smegma can not only lead to irritation and subsequent pain to the sensitive area but it is also the cause of the infamous penial bean.† The bean is an accumulation of smegma near the urethra at the end of the equine penis.† Large beans can cause trouble with urination and be a source of discomfort for the male horse. In addition to the removal of dirt and unwanted material during a sheath cleaning, your veterinarian can thoroughly evaluate the penis and prepuce for evidence of abnormal lesions.†
It is good to remember that sheath cleaning can easily be incorporated into a routine visit to the veterinarian and is generally a quick and painless procedure. This cleaning task of the penis can easily be done at the time of scheduled yearly dental floats or vaccinations.
Abnormal lesions occasionally seen during sheath cleaning are squamous cell carcinoma (skin cancer) and habronema (summer sore). Squamous cell carcinoma lesions have a low malignancy and good prognosis with early detection, hence another good reason to have your veterinarian perform sheath cleaning on your male horse one to two times a year.† Treatment can be very effective and the cancerous lesions can be removed with cryotherapy or surgically. Fortunately the majority of sheath cleanings performed by veterinarians are basic cleansing and de-beaning of the gelding and stallion.
For more information on sheath cleaning, call our office at 972.524.7075.
Equine Veterinary Services