Dr. Hall, Zoetis's representative, spoke about first aid which was a timely topic as I had just gone through a little "near" emergency with Izzy a few days before. Izzy had pooped in his water, so our morning feeder left a five gallon bucket of water filled for him. By the time I got to the barn in the afternoon, the bucket had long been tipped over.
I grabbed a clean bucket and filled it as quickly as I could. I left the hose running while Izzy drank. And drank. And drank. And drank some more. I spent the better part of fifteen minutes standing by the bucket as he alternated eating green grass and returning for more water.
I drained his soiled water trough and then pulled it out of his stall. It's huge and impossible to tip over and exchanged it for a smaller one that can be dumped even when full. This is the third time in as many weeks that Izzy's aim has been poor. The next time it happens, someone will be able to dump, clean, and refill his water without as much effort.
While the new trough was filling, Izzy continued to drink. I later talked to the morning feed person, did some math, and figured that Izzy was out of water for about six hours. It's not long enough for a horse at rest to kill himself, but it is long enough for some digestive upset to start. I pulled out my stethoscope.
For a very simple explanation of how to check a horse's vital signs and the "normal" numbers, check out this website.
I checked all four quadrants, upper and lower on both sides, several times until I started to get a feel for his gurgles. The quietness alone wasn't enough of a reason to call the vet. I moved on to his pulse where I got a satisfactory 40 beats per minute. Again, this is on the higher end of normal, but he had been running around, it was a warm day, and I am a bit out of practice.
I started to feel much better when I checked his capillary refill time. His gums were a lovely shade of pink and filled in immediately when I pushed them. I followed that with a skin tenting test on his neck and shoulder and was just as relieved to see his skin bounce back right away. He certainly wasn't dehydrated as I had feared.
I didn't count his breaths as I could see that his breathing was normal. A distressed horse will take quick, panting breaths, and it's easy to see and hear. I also skipped the temperature reading. The cold bath had already cooled him off nicely and his coat felt cool to the touch. In fact, as I hung out with him a bit longer, he looked perky, happy, and ready to play.
Thankfully, no vet visit was required, but it was a good reminder to me that I need to establish Izzy's base line. What is his normal, resting pulse and what do his particular tummy gurgles sound like? I'll definitely be working on that. To his credit, I was able to take all of his vitals without a halter. He stood relatively still as I moved the stethoscope around his body, and he allowed me to poke at his gums without too much fuss.
I've heard him lecture on this topic in the past, and I've been a client for long enough to have had numerous one on one tutorials on the subject. I am not sure that I came away with anything new, but I always appreciate hearing his thoughts on the topic and feel confident that as new technologies or practices become available, Dr. Tolley will be sure to incorporate those that are valid into his practice.
Thank you, Bakersfield Veterinary Hospital for a great evening!