Most equine tonsillar tissue is contained within the oropharynx (back of mouth). For this reason it is difficult to visualise ( wont see with nasopharyngeal-via the nostrils- endoscopy) which is not the case with ourselves. Accordingly palatine or lingual tonsillitis is rarely diagnosed in the horse. If suspected the oropharynx must be examined endoscopically or manually which in most situations requires a general anaesthetic. It would appear that tonsilar hypertrophy and tonsillitis is not uncommon in the young (yearling) horse but most probably subsides with maturation of the immune system.

Recently palatine tonsils have been resected in a few individuals that experienced repeated episodes of tonsillitis. This was an extremely difficult procedure from which the horses appeared to suffer little discomfort. Much investigative work is still required before reliable recommendations can be made with regard to treatment both medical and surgical for equine tonsillitis.

Further Reading:-

Ahern T J: Tonsillitis and tonsillar hypertrophy predisposing to pharyngeal dysfunction in the horse. J of Equine Vet Sci 1997 ;17:232-4.

NB: The Journal of Equiine Veterinary Science can be found at