Equine Emergency Veterinarian – Where To Take Your Horse For Care?

Where Can I Take My Horse For Emergency CareNo matter the type of animal companion you have in your life, they may need emergency care from time to time. While we may be used to seeing emergency animal hospitals for cats and dogs, you may be unaware that there are emergency options for horses as well! Horses can get themselves into messy situations, often requiring immediate medical attention.

In this article we will discuss what emergency options are available for you as a horse owner, and what is required of the equine veterinarians that will care for your horse.

Are There Equine Emergency Hospitals?

While there may not be as many emergency services for horses as there are for small animals, there are emergency options for our equine friends. Many equine animal hospitals will operate after hours if needed for emergency situations, as well as some clinics that remain open into the late hours of the night. Some equine veterinarians even have on call options that involve the veterinarian coming to your property.

By establishing a relationship with a local equine veterinarian, you often receive a number that you can contact if your horse is ever in dire medical need. This will involve an on call veterinarian coming into the clinic to see your horse, or even coming out to your property to care for them there. This will vary based on the current condition of your horse, and the tools needed to address the medical concern.

While this option is the most rare, there are some cities that have a 24/7 equine animal hospital that is open to everyone at all times, established relationship or not. These facilities are often specialty practices that have hospitalized patients at all times, and require a team to be at the clinic around the clock.

It’s always best to scope out the options in your area before an emergency occurs, as this can help you prepare for any route you need to take.

Traveling Equine Veterinarians

Most horse emergencies are addressed by traveling equine veterinarians that come out to your property. As there may not be as many horses in a given city as there are dogs and cats, there are generally less options in terms of equine hospitals as well. Because of this, many equine vets travel from property to property to address any medical concerns that don’t require major surgery.

Traveling equine vets will often travel with their own set of medications and supplies, as well as a vet tech that will come along with them. They can perform basic diagnostics that don’t require any special imaging, and generally have a lab they work with for any blood or urine tests.

Traveling veterinarians are a wonderful option for most medical concerns, but their care is limited due to not having a fully stocked clinic with a surgical suite. If your horse requires emergency surgery and hospitalization, you may need to look for an actual equine hospital in your area.

What Veterinarians Can See Horses?

In order to treat horses as a veterinarian, you will need to graduate from an accredited veterinary program and pass the NAVLE. Most equine practices will often require new graduates to complete a 1 year internship with an equine practice as well, as this will help them gain much needed experience to practice on their own. 

Some equine veterinarians also choose to become board certified in a certain specialty, as this makes it easier to find fulfilling work in this field. Board certification typically requires 1 year of internship, 4 years of residency, as well as passing a board examination for their specific specialty.

Equine Veterinarian Vs. A Regular Veterinarian

A DVM (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine) for horses does not need any additional degrees than a DVM for small animals would. Both equine vets and small animal vets will need to graduate from an accredited veterinary program, along with passing the NAVLE to earn their DVM title. Once a veterinarian earns their DVM title, they are then allowed to care for both small animals and horses.

However, if a veterinarian specializes in equine medicine, they will need to complete a 4 year residency and pass a special board examination to be considered a specialist. Just as there are multiple types of specialist in small animal medicine, there are options for large animal specialties as well. Some equine specialties include:

  • Equine sports medicine
  • Large animal surgeon
  • Equine dental
  • Large animal internal medicine

How Do Emergency Horse Vets Work?

Emergency horse vets work in a similar way to small animal emergency vets. Emergency equine vets will assess a horse for any obvious sign of injury or illness, perform any required diagnostics, and attempt to treat the medical condition as needed. Horses may be much larger than their small animal friends, but they receive the same standard of care in a medical emergency.

Emergency equine vets will ask about your horse’s symptoms before coming out to your property, or even before they suggest you bring your horse into a hospital. Bringing a horse to the vet is much more difficult than bringing a small pet in, meaning they want to make sure that it is a true emergency.

Vets will often ask you about your horse’s symptoms, your horse’s demeanor, your horse’s current vitals (temperature, respiration, heart rate), and the nature of their injuries if they have any. Emergency equine vets can tend to medical conditions such as:

  • Bleeding injuries such as lacerations, trauma, etc.
  • Acute abdominal pain or colic
  • Lameness that is non-weight bearing
  • Eye injuries
  • Dystocia or birthing difficulties
  • Fractures
  • Respiratory distress
  • Abnormalities in their vital signs
  • And more

If your horse is displaying any of the above symptoms, we recommend contacting your equine veterinarian as soon as possible. These conditions require immediate help, and need the expert care of a trained professional.

Thankfully for the equine companions in our life, there are plenty of options for emergency medical care. Be sure to review the information that we discussed above, and you can be better prepared for any equine emergency that comes your way.

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