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Service Information

  • Emergencies

    Towcester and Onley Equine Vets are available 24 hours a day. If you are worried it is possible to talk to a vet at any time if you call the normal clinic number. Out of normal surgery hours your call will be diverted to the emergency ‘on call’ vet.

    All our vets are experienced at providing emergency treatment in all situations.

    Horses are accident prone and are susceptible to a wide range of ailments. Common equine emergencies include the following:

    1. Colic
    2. Severe lameness
    3. Lacerations & punctures
    4. Choke
    5. Joint and tendon injury
    6. Eye trauma
    7. Reproductive emergency


    Colic means abdominal pain. Mild symptoms include pawing the ground, flank watching and lying down. Severe signs include profuse sweating, violent rolling and sudden collapse.

    Most colic cases will either spontaneously resolve or respond to pain relief and intestinal muscle relaxants administered by the vet.

    5% of cases need surgery to fix them and must be operated on within a few hours of the onset of symptoms if they are to have the best chance of recovery.


    Most cases of severe lameness are caused by an infection; such as a foot abscess, cellulitis or joint infection; or alternatively, a fracture.

    Foot abscesses are treated by ‘paring out the foot’ using a hoof knife, to allow drainage of the infection, whereas cellulitis is treated with antibiotics.

    Joint infections need ‘flushing out’, which usually necessitates a general anaesthetic.


    These injuries usually require immediate attention but are rarely life threatening. They are often associated with haemorrhage so the application of direct pressure with a clean dressing is usually necessary by the horse owner before the vet arrives. Wounds located over or close to joints and tendon sheaths can be extremely serious if the synovial structure is penetrated. These wounds will need flushing out which usually necessitates a general anaesthetic. Any wound should be clipped, cleaned & flushed within 6-8 hours (the golden period) if infection is to be prevented.


    Take a look at our latest wound emergency cases on our blog. Follow the links below:


    This occurs when feed becomes lodged in the oesophagus so the horse cannot swallow. This causes distress, coughing and saliva to pour out of the nostrils and mouth. Most choke cases self resolve within the first 30 to 60 minutes. Your horse should be placed in a stable with without food and water. In cases that don’t improve, it is often necessary to administer intra venous sedation, pass a stomach tube and gently flush out the oesophagus with warm water. Causes include eating too fast, eating poor quality forage and poor dentition.

    For further information, please click here and view our blog.


    Any injury to the tendon or a joint should be regarded as an emergency. If the wound is open and infection is allowed to become established (after 8 hours) the consequences can be extremely serious and performance ending. Closed injury to the tendons, ligaments and joints usually require cold therapy, application of support dressings and stable rest at the earliest opportunity.


    The equine eye is prone to trauma. Corneal ulceration, eye lid lacerations and inflammation of the internal structures of the eyeball are all encountered frequently.

    If your horse presents with a closed, swollen or discharging eye it should be treated as an emergency. If treatment is delayed then there is a risk that eyesight could be permanently affected.


    Most foalings go without a problem but when difficulties do occur they can soon develop into disasters. Dystocias (difficult birth), uterine torsion, haemorrhage, colic and uterine prolapse are all included here.These are often the most time sensitive cases faced by a veterinary surgeon. If you are experiencing any problem at all please phone immediately! We can provide immediate advice and continue providing advice as we drive to attend your horse. Be prepared to roll your sleeves up and get involved.