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 heartbeat (normal heartbeat for a horse is 28 to 42 beats per minute – you can check this by placing three fingers over the submaxillary 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.