Wednesday, August 28, 2013

When to call the vet

I belong to many facebook forums and see people post health issues about their horses.  Some are minor, but others are things you need to call the vet about.  It concerns me people see the vet as the second call not the first. 
I can appreciate individuals bouncing ideas off each other.  There is hundreds of combined years of experience on forums.  I do though feel strongly about calling the vet for serious issues.  That being said what constitutes a serious issue. Here's a list of a few I found when doing research on the topic.
  • Any injury with profuse bleeding that won't stop.
  • Obvious or suspected fractures.
  • Any cut or injury that requires stitches
  • Sudden lameness, often accompanied by heat and swelling.
  • Respiratory distress. Obvious difficulty in breathing, noisy labored breathing.
  • Choking. obvious distress and choking, neck stretched out. Saliva
    and food particles may exit through nostrils.
  • Horse having seizures.
  • Watery diarrhea. If left untreated, the horse could become severely dehydrated.
  • Any apparent eye injury. Lack of treatment or incorrect treatment could mean loss of vision.
  • Learn to recognize the signs of colic. Can range from mild belly ache that will pass on its own to excruciating pain caused by a twisted gut that will require surgery.
  • Abnormal vital signs, such as elevated pulse that does not return to normal at rest.
  • Temperature over 102 usually indicates an infection or disease process.
  • Pulse over 80 beats per minute is considered a sign of trouble in a non-exercising horse.
  • Elevated respiration rate in a resting horse can be caused by excitement, pain or infection.
One of the most important thing you can do it recognize what your horses norm is.  You know your horse better than anyone.  You will be the first one to recognize when they are not themselves.

Also it is very important to collect all the necessary information before you call the vet.  Those would be:
  • Vital signs
  • Location of injury if there is on
  • A brief description of what happened
If you are unsure on how to take your horses vital signs here is a YouTube video I found which was very informative for someone like me with limited experience in this area.

This is a great topic and there is so much to take away from it. 

For more information on these topics please visit the following websites:


  1. Well I did, because my horse was suddenly off and I knew she had nicked a tendon. Vet insisted it was navicular and I was to immediately shoe her with shims. Two weeks later, she's just fine, and still sporting her very good bare foot trim. When in doubt, get a second opinion. Vets aren't gods and they sometimes are wrong. You feel in your gut that they are, be your horses advocate and get a second opinion.

    1. That's awful! Glad you followed your gut.
      I was inspired to publish my post because there was a person seeking advice for a colic horse. She was on facebook rather than calling the vet. The horse passed. It made me so sad. There was over 200 comment from people telling her what to do. How would she have known out of 200 which one was the right one. If only she would have called the vet.

  2. I read a post on facebook which went very well with this topic.
    Never leave little things unnoticed-

    "Tonight, I went out like usual to put my foal back in his yard (he's put in another to be fed), and it was quite windy. My pony in the paddock next to his was running around like a maniac- I almost thought nothing of it. I went in yard to calm her down a little, she was going crazy, she wanted to be out of there! I came back out to grab a halter and put her in the house yard to keep a eye on her.
    When I went to catch her, she snorted, extremely loudly.
    I led her from her yard and into the other. She snorted again and this time on my hand, it was covered in blood!
    My mind collapsed and I started worrying like crazy.
    Under the light I realized she was bleeding out of her nose and was dripping in sweat.
    Of course, we called the vet, after 2 hours of keeping a close eye on her, she was given the all clear.
    We think she just may have poked herself in the nose.

    It was a big scare!

    But my point is, if I had let it pass, It could've ended up badly. So guys, don't let these little things get unnoticed!"

  3. A great post! This is something I am always telling my clients and writing about in my articles is to know their horse's normal vital signs it is so important. By having this knowledge they will be able to pass the information along to their veterinarian.