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Types of Equine Medical Shock Emergencies
 By Winniefield Park   •   17th Dec 2016   •   2,291 views   •   0 comments
Types of Equine Medical Shock Emergencies

Sometimes, a horse can get an injury, but that isnít what causes the biggest threat to its life. Shock can be a killer, and it not the sort of thing that the average horse owner can handle on their own.

A horse can go into shock for a number of reasons. What is shock? Shock is a living bodyís final defense to save itself before it dies. And by body, we can mean any mammal including humans and horses. When a horse goes into shock the circulatory system drastically slows the blood flow to the body. The blood pressure drops and when the tissues are deprived of oxygen and nutrients they begin to die. This can happen fairly quickly. If steps arenít taken to counteract the shock, the horseís heart can stop, and the horse will die.

There are many things that can cause a horse to go into shock. Heart failure can cause Cardiogenic shock. Perhaps the most common type of shock is Hypovolemic shock, which can be brought on by profuse bleeding, severe injury or dehydration. Colic too, can send a horse into shock. Toxic or septic shock can be caused by infection. Neurogenic shock is caused by damage to the horseís nervous system and an allergic reaction can cause anaphylactic shock in horses just like it can in humans.

So what does shock look like? First of all, a horse in shock will look very lethargic and depressed or depending on the stage it is at, may first appear antsy and restless. The horse may appear chilled and shaky, but be sweating. And, the mucous membranes may appear pale gray or purplish and feel gummy. You can check your horse's mucous membranes by lifting up its lips, and looking at its gums. A lot can be learned about your horseís health by the condition of its gums. Itís heartbeat will be rapid and fluttery and itís breathing will be shallow, and panting. Although the horse may not urinate, it can have diarrhea.

There isnít any type of shock that is okay to leave or try to treat yourself. Shock is a medical emergency, and itís most likely that the injury or illness that caused the shock is too. If your horse appears to be in shock, you must have it treated by a veterinarian. While you wait for the veterinarian youíll want to keep the horse warm, perhaps with a blanket. Make sure it is comfortable and try to keep it calm. If there is an injury, first-aid can be administered to control bleeding or stabilize a fracture. If the horse is unconscious, there is not much you can do beyond keeping it warm and dry. Keep in mind when dealing with an agitated horse, that you need to think first of your own safety.

A horse that is in hypovolemic shock will likely have sustained a very severe injury that involved a lot of blood loss. To treat it, the horse will require an intravenous saline solution to help improve the horseís blood pressure. Salts called electrolytes may be given, and if the horse is very agitated or in pain medication to help it will be given. Steroids and other drugs may be given. Most of the treatment involves doing things to aid the circulatory system and help get it working more normally.

Shock caused by infection will involve supporting the circulatory system, but also administering antibiotics to fight the infection. The underlying cause of the infection needs to be found and treated.

Anaphylactic shock can be caused severe insect bites - such as walking over a bees nest and medications including vaccines. These are the two most common causes of anaphylactic shock. Your vet will have to administer a series of epinephrine shots and perhaps steroids. If youíve got a horse you know has allergies, your vet may can help you learn to inject epinephrine so that can be part of your first-aid strategy.

Whatever type of shock a horse has, itís essential to get veterinary help. Shock can cause permanent damage, and even death if not treated properly. This is definitely one time you donít want to Ďwait and seeí if your horse recovers on its own.
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