If you own or lease a horse, chances are you have your veterinarian's phone number either memorized or on speed dial. Caring for a horse means it's not a matter of if you will ever have to call the vet to treat your sick or injured horse, but when. We all want the best possible care for our horses, below are five ways to be a great customer for your vet.
The better you know your horse's temperament and way of going, the quicker you can alert your vet to possible illness or injury. Recognizing a slight change in attitude or appearance early on can stop a potential health emergency. Take the time to learn what normal vital signs are for your horse so you can give the vets a baseline when you call with concerns.
While you don't need to call your vet to come out and treat every bump or cut, do not hesitate to call him immediately if your horse isn't acting right or has a severe injury. Vets would rather come out at 8 pm to evaluate a horse with colicky symptoms than first be alerted when your horse is down thrashing about at 2 AM.
As hard as it may be, when your horse's well-being is at stake don't go the money saving route. Sometimes the longer you wait to get your vet involved, the higher the vet bill will escalate and more dire the circumstances will become. If you are unsure if it's really an emergency, call your vet for his opinion on whether or not a farm visit is needed.
While your vet is out treating your horse make sure to ask questions if you don't understand his medical jargon, diagnosis or aftercare instructions. Nothing is worse than realizing you aren't 100% sure what to do as you see the vet's truck roll out of your barn driveway. Ask for written instructions about diagnosis and treatment procedures so you can provide proper care. Once your vet gives you treatment and aftercare instructions follow them to the letter to ensure your horse has the best recovery possible.
It's not unusual to have a variety of equine medical professional on your horse's care team (i.e. farm vet, lameness specialist, dentist, chiropractor, etc). There are times you want a specialist to look at a particular ailment. "To ensure your vet can provide optimal care, stick with the same practice throughout each injury/illness episode, so they can provide continuous care," suggests Dr. Rachel Cachero, DVM. "If you see a specialist, keep your home vet in the loop so they know what's going on." Enabling information sharing throughout your horse's medical team will ensure he gets top notch care from all involved.
So often we call our vets when we are in crisis mode. They see both our horses and ourselves when we are at our worst. Make a point of letting your vet know when things are going well for your horse. "After constantly hearing about problems, we are really excited to hear good results," says Dr. M. Norris Adams.
Our vets are a huge part of bringing horses back from injury and illness. Share your success stories and let them know the difference they made in both your and your horse's lives.
How are you a good customer to your vet? Let us know!