In an effort to ensure our that our patients and clients receive gold standard care, our equine department offer an in-house laboratory service allowing a large proportion of our samples to be tested on the same day and providing results quickly to guide the best treatment possible for your horse.

Some of the tests offered are outlined below. If you are concerned about your own horse or would like to find out more information, please contact our team on 01327 811007.

Contact us for more information


Haematology and biochemistry blood tests

Samples for routine blood screens can be processed on the same day; meaning that appropriate, targeted treatment and further diagnostics can be performed by our veterinary team swiftly.

Blood testing equipment and vials

Performance profiling

Blood samples taken from horses that are experiencing performance related problems can be run whilst the horse is undergoing investigation in clinic or at the yard. Tests carried out will be at the discretion of the treating vet who can subsequently interpret results with the full clinical picture in mind.

Bacterial and fungal culture and sensitivity

Our nursing team can process samples to identify the presence of bacterial and fungal growth. This is particularly useful for our breeding work and dermatological conditions, ensuring that the most effective treatments are used for your horse’s condition. Sampling time differs according to growth rate of the bacteria or fungus and medium used.

PCR Testing

NEW In-house Strangles Testing Available!

Molecular diagnostic testing allows the rapid detection of DNA of infectious and respiratory pathogens to provide a quick and accurate diagnosis. Previously, these tests were sent to an external laboratory; we can now perform these in house and results can be provided within hours. Specific treatment can be provided quickly and management of contagious disease outbreaks such as Strangles implemented as soon as possible.

Strangles is a highly contagious disease caused by the bacterium Streptococcus Equi and can affect any horse, pony or donkey. The disease can be debilitating but is rarely life threatening, however 1 in 10 horses remain persistently infected as ‘carriers’.

Clinical signs include swelling and the formation of abscesses in the lymph nodes around the throat which can sometimes cause horses to have difficulty swallowing and breathing, hence the name ‘strangles’. Other symptoms of Strangles include fever (38.5C or above), depression, reduced appetite, cough and a yellow/white nasal discharge.

As Strangles is highly contagious, testing possible cases and getting rapid results is paramount for both the affected horse and other in contact horses on the same yard. We now have the ability to perform PCR testing, to detect Strangles DNA, at our on-site laboratory at Plum Park Farm. This can be done on nasopharyngeal swabs or abscess swabs for clinical cases and will give same day results, allowing our vets to help you implement a suitable management strategy as soon as possible or put minds at rest with a negative result.

Additionally, PCR testing is useful in detecting ‘carrier’ horses. ‘Carrier’ horses are those that have recovered from strangles and no longer show any clinical signs, but still harbour S. equi bacteria that cause Strangles within their guttural pouches and are able to spread the infection to other horses. Serology testing (the Strangles blood test) is often performed prior to moving premises as one method of trying to detect carriers and reduce the risk of spread of disease. If blood tests show horses have antibodies to Strangles, then guttural pouch endoscopy and lavage is recommended. PCR testing can then be performed on these lavages to give rapid results and facilitate the movement of horses.

If you suspect you have a case of Strangles then isolate any horses showing clinical signs and contact our vets on 01327 811007. A quick read of our detailed factsheet article on website and taking swift action will help minimise the consequences of an outbreak.

Synovial and peritoneal fluid analysis

Synovial fluid is found in every joint capsule of the equine skeleton. Assessing the white blood cell count of this fluid will help to determine the presence of infection and whether emergency surgery is required. Peritonitis is an infection of the abdominal cavity and testing fluid collected aseptically via a peritoneal tap of the abdomen is also used to determine whether infection is present.

Uterine swab analysis

Our breeding team will routinely swab mares prior to artificial insemination to ensure there is no inflammation or bacterial growth in the uterus. These tests may also be run when investigating fertility problems as they allow identification of uterine infections and selection of the appropriate antibiotic treatment.


Cytological testing is the process of analysing cells under a microscope. The most common samples our vets will analyse are tracheal wash samples. These are collected from the horse via an endoscopic procedure and the cells in the sample can help the vets identify the presence of lower airway inflammation and contribute to a diagnosis of equine asthma syndrome. Cytology is also used to assess skin scrapes in dermatological conditions.

Faecal worm egg counts

This is an essential part of any strategic worming programme to make sure owners are only worming when necessary, thereby decreasing wormer product resistance. Our nurses can perform worm egg counts and then liaise with your vet about the appropriate course of action.

IRAP processing

Interleukin receptor antagonist protein is a naturally occurring product that can help to treat a variety of joint injuries. The cells are harvested from a blood sample taken from your horse, which our team will then process and extract specific cells. These cells will then be injected into the affected joint to promote healing.

Stem cell and PRP processing

Preparing harvested stem cells from bone marrow and extracting the platelet rich plasma from your horse’s blood can both be done in our laboratory. Both of these treatments are often used for tendon injuries, joints and ligaments where the extracted cells are then injected into the problem area. This will promote faster healing.

Tests that cannot be run in-house are referred to external laboratories. These include:

  • ACTH testing
  • Influenza testing
  • CEM, EVA and EIA testing
  • Pregnancy testing
  • Cryptorchid testing
  • Vitamin and mineral deficiencies

Contact our team to discuss your own horse on 01327 811007.

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