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What exactly is an emergency situation?

Unfortunately, there is no easy answer. Some horse owners with more experience may feel comfortable treating many common ailments on their own or with a little guidance from their veterinarian. However, there are some situations that will almost always need immediate attention:

  1. Colic – colic pain that persists or worsens after 30 minutes of hand-walking.
  2. Eyes – eye injuries can go from bad to worse very quickly and should be seen as soon as possible.
  3. Gaping wounds – cuts that need to be stitched should be stitched within the "golden period" of 8-12 hours for the best chance of healing.
  4. Severe lameness – horses that can barely walk may have something as simple as a foot abscess, but could also have a fracture or severe infection. Either way, a horse in that much pain should be seen quickly.
  5. Down horses – any horse that cannot rise on its own may be in serious trouble.
  6. Obstetrics – mares having difficulty foaling, or foals that don’t appear to be healthy should be seen as soon as possible.
  7. Choke or esophageal obstructions – don’t let the sun set on a choke. If you see feed material coming from their nose or green nasal discharge remove all food and water and call the vet.

What are the normal vital parameters in horses?

  • Temperature 99-100.50 F
  • Heart Rate 24-36 beats per minute
  • Respiratory Rate 12-18 breaths per minute

What are the first signs of colic?

Decreased appetite, pawing, lying down, and rolling, decreased manure production.

What should I do if my horse has a laceration?

Move your horse to a clean, dry location where you can determine the extent of the wound. If there is bleeding try to put a pressure bandage over the wound with lots of padding. Call your vet with a description of location and size of wound.

What should I look for if my horse has consumed toxic plant material?

Most toxins consumed by horses either show as neurologic signs – ataxia, blindness, paralysis, or as chronic liver disease.

What should I do if my horse is not weight bearing?

Minimize the movement of the patient until you have assessed them. Look for any heat or swelling on the limb. Call your vet immediately with this information. Keep patient calm and quiet until your vet arrives.

Should I have a first aid kit for emergencies?

Yes, Pilchuck Veterinary Hospital has a complete First Aid Kit that you can purchase at the clinic.

Please call for more information.

Contact Us

Pilchuck Veterinary Hospital


11308 92nd St SE Snohomish, WA 98290


24 HOUR EMERGENCY SERVICES Small Animal Reception Monday - Thursday: 8 AM to 7 PM Friday - Saturday: 8 AM to 5 PM Sunday: Emergency Only Equine/Large Animal Reception Monday - Friday: 8 AM to 5 PM Saturday: 8 AM to 12 PM Equine Reproduction Center Monday - Friday: 8 AM to 5 PM Saturday: 8 AM to 12 PM Integrative Medicine Tuesday - Friday: 9 AM to 6 PM Saturday: 9 AM to 4 PM