Medical Concerns for Horses During a Disaster

These are some of the common medical problems to look for in a horse during a disaster:

  • Cuts and abrasions
  • Abscesses
  • Burns
  • Respiratory problems that can turn into pneumonia (especially in fires)
  • Lameness
  • Eye Injuries
  • Nails or other sharp debris in hooves
  • Foot infection from standing in water or mud for extended periods of time
  • Discharge from the nose

Another possible problem, which is brought on by stress, eating bad food, changes in diets or unclean stalls/pastures, is colic.  These are all real possibilities during a disaster.  The first signs of colic are:

  • Restlessness
  • Pawing the ground with a front hoof
  • Biting at their side
  • Kicking under their belly with a hind leg
  • Repeatedly lying down and then getting back up or rolling on the ground
  • Elevated heart beat (normal heartbeat for a horse is 28 to 42 beats per minute – you can check this by placing three fingers over the submazillary artery on the lower jaw bone)
  • Excessive sweating


If you notice any combination of these symptoms, contact an equine veterinarian immediately.  Colic can kill a horse and the risk is much greater during a disaster.  

Join our Cause

Stop the suffering.
Save lives with SPCA International.

Sign up for SPCA International alerts to receive regular updates on animals in crisis and how you can help.

Privacy Policy