Basic Physical Exam for Horses

Do you know what to do when your horse isn’t feeling tip-top? Before you call your veterinarian, you should be armed with information that will help determine the seriousness of the problem.

The basics of a physical examination include temperature, pulse rate and respiration as well as observation of any outward signs the horse may be displaying. The horse’s temperature and heart rate can help the vet decide whether to come and examine your horse right away or tell you what to do until s/he arrives later.

If your horse show signs of being unwell before you are about to leave home for the day, doing a basic examination can help to tell you if the horse is ill. In any case, you should call your vet and explain the situation. But the more information you can give saves time.

You should include in your horse’s equipment the following tools – a thermometer preferably digital, a stethoscope and a watch that counts seconds. Know your horse’s normal temperature, heart rate and behavior so you can compare if you suspect illness. Observing your horse’s normal behavior is an important tool to help you and your vet when problems occur. Ask your vet to show you how to use these tools properly.

IF YOUR HORSE IS BLEEDING, THRASHING ABOUT, IN SEVERE PAIN, CALL YOUR VET BEFORE PERFORMING A BASIC EXAMINATION. If your horse’s condition is this serious, you may not be able to do a basic exam, but inform your vet immediately of the horse’s behavior.

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