Equine emergencies can happen at any time, anywhere and there may not always be a veterinarian immediately available.
At MPEH, we'd like to help you be prepared to handle emergency situations. The following guidelines will help you to provide basic first-aid to your horse in several scenerios, until one of our doctors can arrive to assist you. In any situation where your horse is injured or ill, please call our office 509-928-6734 (MPEH) as soon as you can. Our veterinarians are available for emergency care 24 hours a day/seven days-a-week.
Before any emergency situation arises with your horse - you should already know what the normal/resting heart rate, respiration rate and temperature is for your horse. Please click on our Equine Vital Signs Tab for further information.
Colic - Please see our Colic page
If there is active bleeding - spurting or pulsing blood, stop it by applying a pressure wrap. First, apply a non-stick bandage to the wound, cover the bandage & limb with sheet cotton and then wrap tightly with vetrap. If a wound is not actively bleeding, wash it gently with betadine scrub and rinse with dilute betadine solution. (1 part solution to 20 parts water.) (Some bleeding is normal and expected, particularly if you are washing the wound.)
If you do not have bandaging materials available, clean towels, new diapers, and/or sanitary pads can be used. Athletic or duct tape can be used to hold these in place until the doctor arrives. Do not apply any medications to the wound until the veterinarian has examined it.
If your horse has impaled himself with a sharp object and it is still there - do not remove it! Keep the horse calm and wait for the veterinarian to arrive! If there is just a puncture, (no object), run cold water over it to clean it out. This is also true if a nail is found protruding from anywhere on the hoof. Do not remove it until the veterinarian arrives! Do not apply any medications to the wound until the veterinarian has examined it.
One of the things we all love about horses is their big beautiful eyes. Unfortunately, because their eyes are big, are located on the side of their face and protrude out, they frequently sustain injuries. Any eye injury should be considered an emergency.
Lacerations to the lids can usually be sutured and returned to full function. This must be done within the first couple of hours after the injury. The lids are very thin and the tissue dries out very quickly. Promptly addressing these lacerations is imperative for optimal results.
Corneal injuries are also very common. Often these result in corneal ulcers which can result in complete loss of the eye within 48 hours if aggressive treatment is not instituted.
Finally inflammation of the tissues around the eye, known as conjunctivitis, is also very frequent. This creates significant discomfort to the horse. Imagine how a grain of sand feels in your eye. We consider any abnormality to the eye or surrounding tissues to be a true emergency and recommend you call immediately.
Basic Emergency First Aid Kit
|Bute or Banamine Paste||4x4 Gauze|
|Opthalmic Antibiotic Ointment||Non-stick Bandage (Telfa)|
|Betadine scrub & Solution*||Sheet Cotton|
|Triple Antibiotic Ointment||White tape (Athletic) or Elastikon|
|(*Dilute 1 part Solution w/20 parts water before using.)|