Common Emergencies
1. What are the signs and causes of acute laminitis and what can be done to treat this?


  • Laminitis is an emergency and it is essential that it be recognized in the early stages to prevent foundering (rotation of the coffin bone) which can necessitate euthanasia
  • You should be on the lookout for laminitis when:

          · Recent history of eating an excessive amount of grain or being on lush pasture
          · History of cushings disease or equine metabolic syndrome
          · Poor trimmming/excessive trimming of feet
          · Excessive fever, especially when accompanied by diarrhea

  • What to do:

          · Do not force the horse to walk great distances
          · Immediately place the feet in an ice-water bath if possible
          · When confined to a stall, bed deeply to provide cushioning for feet
          · Call your veterinarian, this is an emergency!

2. What are the signs of colic and what should I do to treat this?


  • Signs of colic can range from subtle to severe and prompt treatment is essential to prevent the problem from worsening
  • What you should do:

          · Take vital signs (heart rate, respiratory rate, temperature)
          · Remove feed
          · If trying to roll, walk the horse, allow to stand quietly if they desire
          · Call your veterinarian to report your horse’s behavior and vital signs.  Your vet will then instruct you on further home treatment or may decide               that it is necessary to see and treat the horse.  They may instruct you to:
                    · Administer banamine (do not do this without first consulting your veterinarian, especially if it is a second dose!) for pain relief
                    · Walk horse or take it for a trailer ride until it can be seen and treated

  • Even mild colic can quickly become severe, especially if left unaddressed. It is important to recognize the early signs and treat quickly to prevent a more severe problem which may require surgical management or euthanasia.
3. What is “choke” in horses, and how do i recognize and treat this?


  • “Choke” in horses occurs when something (commonly feed eaten too quickly or not chewed sufficiently or less commonly, a foreign object or mass) obstructs the passage of food down the esophagus, resulting in regurgitation and possible aspiration of swallowed materials (feed and saliva)
  • Signs of choke include:

          · Excessive salivation
          · Retching or straining to swallow
          · Coughing with saliva and/or food material coming out nostrils

  • Choke is an EMERGENCY and must be treated immediately to avoid aspiration of food and possible pneumonia or trauma to the esophagus

          · Remove all feed and water from the stall
          · Encourage the horse to hold his head low
          · Call your veterinarian