What is Sheath Cleaning?
The “sheath” is an area or pouch around the penis. The tube that carries urine to the horse’s penis is called the urethra. Just above the urethra is a pouch called the urethral diverticulum. It is there that “smegma”, which is a waxy substance that forms when a horse urinates, will start to accumulate. Some smegma is normal, like ear wax, but large amounts of smegma will cause irritation and sometimes blockage.
When smegma accumulates it forms a ball, called a “bean”. This bean can form in the sheath and in the small pocket in the head of the penis. This bean can become irritating to horses and sometimes cause infection. The bean can also become very large in size resulting in difficulty to urinate or even a complete obstruction which will become very painful.
How often should the sheath be cleaned?
It is important to have your horses sheath cleaned at the minimum once a year. It would benefit your horse to clean the sheath twice a year. Cleaning the sheath is also important because the penis is a very common and overlooked area where tumors can grow.
Can I clean it myself?
You can, but cleaning the sheath on a horse is not enjoyable for owner nor the horse. If you are a new horse owner or you own a horse that does not care for the procedure it is best for your safety and the safety of your horse to have Village Veterinary Hospital do this for you. We will be glad to set your horse an appointment and or answer any questions you may have regarding this procedure. Please call our office at