We understand that when your horse requires urgent medical attention, you need an experienced, approachable vet whom you can trust to help treat your beloved companion. Our vets are available 24/7 so contact us if you have any concerns regarding your horse.
Towcester: 01327 811007
Onley: 01788 523000
The 24-hour emergency service provided by our strong team of experienced vets and nurses helps to provide you and your horse with the best care possible. Emergency services are provided by the practice vets that you come to meet on routine visits, so rest assured that it will be one of our valued team members that treats your horse. We consider continuity of care a priority for our patients and we encourage this as much as possible within our bookings team.
If your horse does require a period of hospitalisation they will be monitored around the clock, at our comprehensive inpatient facilities at the Plum Park site. We make sure our inpatients are kept as comfortable as possible, with gold standard care and monitoring by our veterinary interns and experienced nursing team. We will provide you with daily updates of your horse’s condition and can answer any questions whilst you visit your horse.
We consider the following conditions to be emergencies:
Colic is a term used to describe abdominal pain. There are many causative factors leading to colic in horses for example; overeating of feed, management or pasture changes, stress, changes in weather and digestive obstructions to outline just a few.
Click the link above for more detailed information on the different types of colic and precautionary measures that owners can take to reduce the risk of colic affecting your horse.
Symptoms of colic can vary from mild signs such as pawing the ground, lip curling, flank watching and lying down, to more severe signs including sweating, violent rolling and sudden collapse.
Colic is classed as an emergency as immediate veterinary treatment is usually indicated. This may include administration of IV pain relief and anti-spasmodic medication, passing a stomach tube and a rectal examination. In more serious cases, horses may need colic surgery which should be undertaken as early as possible in orer to achieve the best outcome. In the event of surgery being indicated we are able to refer to a number of specialist equine hospitals in the surrounding counties. The more dangerous cases of colic are listed on our colic page but all cases should be treated as an emergency and advice sought as soon as possible.
Although there are numerous causes, common diagnoses of severe lameness emergencies include foot abscesses, cellulitis, joint infections, soft tissue injuries and fractures.
Following a thorough clinical examination, if the vet is able to locate a foot abscess within your horse’s hoof, they will carefully par out the foot with a hoof knife to allow the infection to drain. This usually requires a period of box rest, pain relief and poulticing as your horse will be sore for a few days.
Cellulitis is a bacterial infection under the skin, usually secondary to a foreign body penetration or wound, and presents as increased swelling of the leg, often around the pastern, cannon bone and knee/hock joints. The onset of cellulitis can be rapid and extreme in presentation and thus veterinary attendance is essential for a speedy recovery.
Joint infection can occur when the synovial structure is compromised by bacteria. Common joint infection sites are the fetlocks, carpus or hock joints, and we see an influx of these emergencies in the hunting season when clients have been jumping over hedges. Infections can occur via a thorn penetrating the joint directly or through open wounds . All wounds are considered emergencies but if they overlie a joint, it is time critical that veterinary attention is sought.
Penetrating foot injuries can be dramatic and it is important that you call the vet immediately and DO NOT REMOVE the offending object! There are many sensitive structures in the foot which may have been compromised. If your horse is severely non weight bearing lame and you are suspicious they may have incurred a fracture, please call your vet immediately.
Lacerations and punctures
Wounds are considered an emergency as they require immediate attention in order to avoid further infection. All wounds seen by our veterinary team will be clipped, cleaned and flushed with sterile saline within 6-8 hours of the original injury. This provides appropriate wound management coupled with antibiotic therapy where indicated. If necessary the attending vet may also need to suture some larger wounds, or cast the distal limb in order to aid the healing process of certain types of wounds.
It is always best to call a vet if your horse sustains a wound so that advice can be given on how to treat the injury before the vet arrives. In certain cases where box rest is indicated and this is not possible at home, horses can be hospitalised at the clinic where our veterinary and nursing team will be able to care for them as in-patients.
Choke can be traumatic for horse owners to witness, although most cases of choke do tend to resolve themselves within 30 to 60 minutes. Choke occurs when food gets lodged in your horse’s oesophagus, often caused by eating too fast, poor dentistry, badly chopped treats, rushing food or eating poor quality forage. If you suspect choke, you should place your horse in a stable without food or water and ring the vet so that a plan can be put into action. Once the vet arrives, they may pass a stomach tube and gently lavage the oesophagus with warm water to move the blockage; this will be done under sedation.
If you find your horse with a closed, swollen or discharging eye, you should call the practice immediately. EYES ARE EMERGENCIES! The equine eye is prone to trauma and it is important to act quickly so that your horse’s sight is not permanently affected.
Examples of common eye emergencies include corneal ulceration, eye lid lacerations and inflammation of the internal structures of the eyeball. Our vets will perform a full ophthalamic exam to identify the problem and prescribe the correct medication. Due to the nature of some eye injuries, owners may opt to refer their horse to the clinic. Some conditions require medication to be administered every hour, as well as constant checks, so our team have invested in small pump devices that can be fitted to head collars that help to deliver this medication. If you horse requires more advanced treatment such as enucleation (removal of the eye) we have experienced surgeons able to carry out this procedure, as well as long standing links with external opthalmologists who can provide second opinions and further surgical treatments.
Mares are usually capable of foaling without any intervention, however in certain circumstances difficulties may be encountered requiring rapid veterinary intervention. Examples of this include uterine torsion or prolapse, haemorrhage, colic and rectal or vaginal prolapse, as well as difficult or malpositioned foals.
If you are concerned about your mare, contact our emergency line immediately. This is a time sensitive situation so we can provide you with advice whilst we are en-route. Very often we will need an extra pair of hands so owners need to be prepared to be involved in the foaling process. It is recommended that you contact the practice in advance of your expected foaling date which allows pre-planning and advice from our expert breeding team.