How to Measure Equine Vital Signs

Equine vital signs include temperature, pulse and respiration. Knowing how to get these metrics can be very helpful knowledge for an equestrian, so we met up with Dr. Chad McGee to learn how to find these on your horse.

Temperature is taken on a horse rectally, and it’s important to not be bashful with inserting the thermometer while also remaining cautions of a horse that may kick. Normal temperature is anywhere from 99.5-101.5 degrees Fahrenheit (although some horses may run down in the 98 range).

Pulse can be taken in a few places:  by palpation where the cheek meets the jaw and at the digital pulse in the artery that runs down the fetlock, and also by listening right in under their elbow with a stethoscope. Normal heart rate is anywhere from 36-42 beats per minute.

Respiration can be gauged by watching the sides of the horse move as they breathe in and out. Normal respiratory rate is anywhere from 12-16 breaths per minute.

These data points are very useful information to provide your vet over the phone in advance of their arrival.

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