When You Should Call the Vet

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When you own a horse, it can be difficult to know just when enlisting the help of a veterinarian is necessary. Spending the extra money on unnecessary vet bills is never a fun activity, but if you wait too long before calling the vet, your horse may end up in worse condition than he was originally in. How do you know when to call the vet? This guidance should help.

Wounds Requiring Stitches

If your horse sustains a wound serious enough that it requires stitches, then call your vet as soon as possible. A large wound may not heal up by itself unless stitches are used to hold the skin together. Significant wounds, especially those on the legs, should be treated by a vet.

Puncture Wounds

Puncture wounds penetrating beyond the first layer of skin can become easily infected. A puncture wound needs to be properly flushed out, and if a wound has been caused by a metal object, your horse will need a tetanus booster. If a puncture wound is anywhere near a joint, such as the knee, immediately call your vet – wounds that have penetrated the joint capsule pose a serious infection risk and need to be treated immediately.


Significant lameness that comes on quickly should generally be evaluated by a veterinarian. While lameness can be caused by a hoof abscess, unless you are familiar with how to recognize a hoof abscess, calling the vet may be a good idea. Any lameness that is accompanied by heat or swelling in your horse’s leg warrants an immediate call to the vet, as does lameness that affects multiple legs at the same time.

Eye Injuries

Any changes or injuries to your horse’s eye need immediate veterinary attention. An injury that affects the eye should be treated by a veterinarian. If you notice unusual colors or cloudiness in your horse’s eye, you will also want to have a vet out to evaluate. Eye injuries and conditions can progress quickly, so waste no time in calling out the vet.

Serious Conditions

Some conditions warrant an emergency call to the vet, such as a case of colic or a horse that is exhibiting neurologic symptoms. Other diseases, like Strangles, also require immediate veterinary treatment. If you suspect that your horse is seriously ill, always call your vet.

When it comes to knowing when to call the vet, time and experience will make making that decision easier. If you have any doubt as to whether you can properly treat your horse’s condition on your own, then you should always put a call in to your horse’s veterinarian to be safe.

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