Sarcoids should be viewed as a form of skin cancer. If you find anything that looks suspicious on your horse please consult your vet immediately as it may be a form of skin cancer. When dealing with sarcoids, it is better to contact your vet as soon as you notice the lesion rather than waiting for it to improve or “treating” it with methods recommended by non-vets. Sarcoids are not easy to treat – there are over 40 treatments worldwide proving that there is no one universally effective treatment – the best treatment method should be applied in the first instance, as each unsuccessful treatment attempt results in a 40% decrease in success of further treatments.
It can be tempting to use remedies recommended by unqualified people which may appear to be cheaper. However the only person who can give you sensible and balanced advice is your vet.
We often see cases where owners have taken treatment into their own hands, making them very difficult to treat or in some cases making the problem much more severe. Not every sarcoid responds in the same way as another, even if they are in the same location or look similar. Many vets use our service to ensure that they can provide the most cost effective advice. Never be tempted to rely on the many remedies purported to work. Your horse’s treatment must be tailored to both the lesions and their location so always seek veterinary advice.
The likelihood for recurrence with sarcoids is high, so do not be disappointed if the sarcoid “comes back”. Do not expect a 100% cure rate as a horse with sarcoids will always have the propensity to develop further lesions later in life.
Buying a horse with sarcoids
You should always ask specifically about sarcoids if thinking about purchasing a horse. It is the responsibility of the seller to declare whether the horse has had sarcoid – whether they are cured, self-resolved or still present. If the horse is perfect in every other way do not necessarily condemn it out of hand! The commercial value of a horse with even one sarcoid is often less on the open market than the same horse without (this may not apply to high performance racehorses etc).
The presence of sarcoid is a major cause of failure at pre-purchase examination. Scars at old sarcoid sites can be mistaken for wound scars, so purchasers and vets need to be very careful! Many vets have a harsh attitude towards sarcoids and will advise against purchase, however the buyer should base the decision on the whole package and advice that the vet gives. Sometimes a vet will ask for a second opinion from us on a vetting which will usually outline prospective treatment options and costs.
Insurance companies will not accept the risk of sarcoids. If the horse has even a single suspicious lesion at the time of proposal or has a history of having had sarcoids the insurance will usually not cover for them. Prior to finalising a purchase you should confirm your position with your insurance company.
If you decide to purchase a horse with sarcoids it is usually better to get them treated sooner rather than later. Treatment is likely to be expensive and ongoing, with repeated treatments throughout the life of the horse potentially being required.