How to Respond to Horse Emergencies

By Audrey Pavia, Janice Posnikoff, D.V.M.

Part of Horses For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Your horse, like you and every other animal, is susceptible to health troubles. The problems in the symptom column in the following table are ones that merit immediate attention and a call to the veterinarian.

Symptom(s) Possible Cause Steps to Perform
Bleeding Injury Apply pressure; call vet
Blood in urine Severe infection or bladder injury Call vet immediately
Coughing and salivating with head down as food exits the
mouth
Choking Horse can breathe, but call vet immediately
Inability to stand; staggering Severe sickness Call vet immediately
Liquid, foul-smelling excrement Diarrhea Call vet immediately
Profuse sweating, lying down and getting up, pawing ground,
biting abdomen
Colic Remove food; call vet immediately
Rapid breathing, raspy breathing, heavy coughing Illness or infection Call vet immediately
Refusal to eat Serious illness or mild colic Call vet immediately
Severe pain Injury or illness Call vet immediately
Straining to defecate or urinate Intestinal or urethral blockage Call vet immediately
Swelling or body part that’s hot to the touch Injury Call vet immediately
Teary eye; closed eye; red eye; cloudy eye Eye injury or infection Call vet immediately
Temperature significantly above or below
98–101.5ºF
Fever Call vet immediately