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5 Top Emergencies For Horses

Horses tend to be a bit more accident prone than most animals, and although they are large and strong. Obviously there will be regional differences that can affect this list, but each of these situations requires immediate veterinary attention, and the treatments are beyond the scope of the average horse owner‟s experience.

1. Colic:

Colic is the most common emergency call veterinarians get. The definition of colic is abdominal pain, which can arise from any organ in the abdomen including liver, kidneys, the reproductive tract, etc. but is most often from the gastrointestinal tract. Symptoms of colic range from “just not right” to pawing, looking at their abdomen, lying down, and when severe, rolling and thrashing.

2. Lacerations and punctures:

These injuries are probably the most frequently encountered by veterinarians, and although they almost always require immediate attention, they are seldom life threatening. Obviously, the location of the injury will dictate the necessary treatment and aftercare. Often there is significant hemorrhage associated with these injuries, in which case the horse owner is often advised to apply direct pressure to the wound until help can arrive. Applying a snug, dry bandage is the best first aid to a lower leg wound while transporting the horse to an equine hospital. The head and face is commonly involved with laceration-type injures, and although they look horrible, they heal quite nicely given appropriate care.

3. Laminitis:

Laminitis or “founder” is an inflammatory condition of the hoof that commonly presents as lameness in both front feet or sometimes all four feet. Your horse may; feel reluctant to walk, walk very stiffly or like he/she is “on eggshells”, lie down more often than usual or constantly shift weight from one foot to another rock back or “sit” on his/her hindquarters, or appear that his hind end is painful. These signs may be acute in onset or more slow and insidious to develop. There are many possible causes and treatments of laminitis that can only be determined by a full physical evaluation, thorough history and blood-work.

4. Choke:

Choke in horses is an obstruction in the esophagus, which is different than a person choking in which the trachea (airway) is obstructed. The main symptom of choke is feed material coming out of the horses’ nose. Horses that are choking may also gag, cough, or strain while trying to swallow. While different from “choke” in people where it is a life threatening condition, horses that are choking are not at immediate risk but do generally require veterinary attention to get the obstruction to pass.

5. Eye Trauma:

Because of their prominent location, the equine eye is prone to injury. Corneal ulcers, eyelid lacerations, and uveitis are the conditions most frequently observed. Any time an eye is observed to be swollen or closed or has a discharge associated with it, you should consider

it a medical emergency. Take an extra minute to observe you horses eyes during feeding time and be looking for an abnormal appearance.

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