In most cases when a horse is acting strange, displaying signs of discomfort or pain, or may be injured it is best to reach out to a veterinary professional for help and their opinion. We are not veterinary professionals and cannot give veterinary advice. We are happy to help with basic horse care and horse care needs, but have limited medical knowledge.
Listed below we have compiled basic horse vital signs, common signs and symptoms to watch for that may alert you that something is wrong with your horse, and some basic advice for when you should reach out to a vet and when you may be able to treat your horse by yourself.
Basic Horse Vital Signs:
All of the following vitals are for a healthy adult horse. Anything outside of these ranges should be cause for concern and may need veterinary attention.
- Temperature - 99.8℉ to 101.3℉
- Resting Heart rate - 28-44 beats per minute. Anything over 60bpm should be treated as an emergency.
- Foals average between 70-120 bpm
- Resting Respiratory rate - 8-15 breaths per minute
- Gums should be pink and moist and if pressed on, color should return within two seconds
- Skin should be elastic and if pinched should go back to normal immediately
- Gut sounds should be audible on both sides (stomach gurgling) and constant
What to watch for:
You know your horse best, so will know if they are acting off or abnormally. These are some common signs that your horse COULD need a vet, but do not necessarily require immediate attention and may just be cause for monitoring or further investigation.
- Excessive pawing, especially paired with biting at sides or getting up and down frequently
- Biting at stomach/sides
- Getting up and down frequently, seemingly in discomfort
- Excessive drooling
- Lack of appetite
- Discoloration of eyes or frequent discharge
- Discoloration of gums
- Non weight bearing, inability to move around
- Sudden weight loss
- Neurological issues such as head bobbing, fainting, seizures
- Extreme changes in behavior (aggressiveness, laziness, unwilling to move certain ways)
- Dull, dry coat
- Hives or rashes
- Excessive sweating
- Sensitivity to certain areas of the body
When to contact your vet:
Whenever you are unsure, it is safest to call a vet and get their opinion if their help is needed or not. Below are some times that you should definitely call a vet as soon as possible.
If there is:
- Heavy bleeding or deep wound
- Signs of infection (discoloration, discharge, bad smell)
- Obvious fracture
- Obvious impalement
- Difficulty breathing
- Extreme swelling
- Non weight bearing
- Severe diarrhea
- Injury to the eye
- No appetite for more than a few hours, even with treats
- Blood in stool or urine
When in doubt, always reach out to a professional! Check your horse on a regular basis, including a thorough check of their body and watch for changes to the body, changes in appetite and changes in behaviors or personality to catch illnesses or issues early.