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When to Call a Vet for Your Horse

It is important to recognise the signs that indicate when your horse might be in need of veterinary care. Follow the checklist below as advised by the Equine Industry Welfare Guidelines for Horses, Ponies and Donkeys to ensure you know when urgent veterinary help is required.

Conditions requiring urgent veterinary attention:

  • Acute abdominal pain or colic
  • Serious injury involving deep wounds, severe haemorrhage, suspected bone fractures or damage to the eyes
  • Evidence of straining for more than 30 minutes by a mare who is foaling
  • Inability to rise or stand
  • Inability or abnormal reluctance to move
  • Severe diarrhoea
  • Prolonged/ abnormal sweating, high temperature, anxiety, restlessness or loss of appetite
  • Any other signs of acute pain or injury
  • Respiratory distress

This list is not comprehensive and if you have any doubts regarding your horse's health it is best to contact your vet immediately who will be able to advise you on whether your horse needs an immediate visit.

A veterinary surgeon should be consulted within 48 hours of the owner becoming aware of the following conditions:

  • Marked lameness that has not responded to normal first aid treatment
  • Injury that has not responded to normal first aid treatment
  • Signs suspicious of Strangles or other infectious disease, nasal discharge, raised temperature, enlarged lymph nodes or cough
  • Sustained loss of appetite
  • Persistent weight loss
  • Skin conditions that have not responded to treatment, including saddle sores and girth galls
  • Other sub-acute illness or injury

Of course there are many other reasons why you will want to call your vet for assistance and you should feel free to do so. This list is a minimum indication of the attention that should be available to animals in distress.

It is essential to call your vet immediately if you suspect your horse has colic. Most colic can be managed medically but some cases will have to go to surgery.
It is essential to call your vet immediately if you suspect your horse has colic. Most colic can be managed medically but some cases will have to go to surgery.