Although regarded as a routine procedure, castration is an invasive surgery and complications can occur. Anaesthesia always carries a risk in equines and, although this is relatively low in young fit animals, the possibility of complications is still present and should be appreciated.
One of the most common post-op complications is bleeding. A small drip of blood from the incision site(s) can be normal 24-48 hours post-operatively. If you are unable to count the drops of blood as they fall, or notice a continuous stream of blood, please contact the practice immediately.
A small amount of scrotal/sheath swelling is considered normal; however, this should improve with movement and your horse should be well in himself. A dramatically swollen scrotum/sheath (often coupled with a fever) can be indicative of a post-operative infection which often occurs due to environmental contamination. You may notice that your horse is duller than normal and off his food. In some cases, there may be evidence of purulent, malodourous discharge from the surgical sites. This will require veterinary attention to assess if a course of antibiotics is warranted or if the incisions need to be re-opened to establish drainage.
Sometimes, tissue material may protrude from the surgical sites. This may be a bit of the vaginal tunic (the sac which the testicle previously sat in) which can be trimmed away. However, in rare cases, pieces of intestine can prolapse which is a serious emergency and requires veterinary intervention immediately. We advise contacting the practice immediately if you notice any protruding tissue.