8 times you should CALL THE VET

Do you know when it’s time to call the vet out, even if it does mean paying the dreaded after hours fee? All these conditions/symptoms indicate that your horse needs immediate veterinary attention.

  1. We’ll start with the obvious: lacerations. Wounds should nearly always be checked by a veterinarian, especially if they are anywhere near a joint or if the horse is lame. Wounds can only be sutured within 12 hours, so don’t wait til morning or Monday – if suturing is an option, it can dramatically decrease healing time.
  2. Colic is the number one killer of horses. Know the symptoms and don’t “wait and see”. Early treatment might be the difference. Colic is a generic term for abdominal pain, so watch for any signs of discomfort: pawing, looking/kicking at belly, curling lip, yawning, laying down frequently, rolling, refusing to eat, sweating, etc.
  3. Monitor your horse’s appetite. If your horse misses a meal, it’s a serious concern. Lack of appetite could be a result of colic, or a high fever, or a dental issue, and a veterinarian needs evaluate your horse to know for sure. Regardless of the cause, if a Miniature Horse goes without eating, they are at a high risk for developing hyperlipidemia, a life-threatening process where their fat stores are dumped into the bloodstream, ultimately shutting down their liver and other organs. Early intervention is the only chance for survival.
  4. Severe acute lameness. If your horse goes from sound and happy one day, to hobbling around the next, get the vet out. It could be something as simple as an abscess – which would be good news – and the vet can get him feeling better in no time, or it could be something far more serious. Regardless, your horse is in pain and needs to be seen.
  5. Swollen, sore eye. Horses only hold their eyes closed if they’re very painful, and any injury or inflammation in the eye needs to be treated immediately and often. The longer you wait to get a vet out and start treatment, the more likely that your horse will have lasting damage.
  6. Unlike humans, a horse can still breathe when he’s choking, but that doesn’t make it less of an emergency. Choking horses are in distress, coughing, and often have food coming out of their nostrils. A choke can cause severe pneumonia and damage to the esophagus, and the risks increase the longer they go without treatment.
  7. Horses – especially foals – can become dangerously dehydrated very quickly. Diarrhea is a symptom of some of the scarier infectious diseases, so much so that only clinics with isolation facilities are equipped to admit a horse with severe diarrhea. Diagnosis of what exactly is causing the diarrhea usually requires a lab test, and the sooner it’s sent away, the sooner your horse can start on the correct treatment, and supportive care such as IV fluids may be necessary to stabilize them.
  8. Most foalings happen without any issue, but when it goes wrong, it goes really wrong. For the safety of your mare and foal, do your research. If the foal isn’t delivered in about 20 minutes, you need a vet. Don’t wait.

When in doubt, call your vet. They’d much rather talk to you for 10 minutes and decide they don’t need to come out, than not hear from you until it’s too late, and there’s nothing they can do to help your horse.


Want to learn more? The Big Book of Miniature Horses is available now!


2 thoughts on “8 times you should CALL THE VET”

  1. Everyone should read and memorize this. I made the mistake last year on No. 2 of thinking I could “wait and see” (as we have no large animal vet locally). The next morning, after a 3-1/2 hr haul to an equine clinic, my boy become one more statistic. So heed all the symptoms in the above list – don’t wait for things to get better but take action as soon as you notice a problem developing.

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