Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Auscultation

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Auscultation is the art of listening to the body with a stethoscope. The primary organs ausculted in the horse are the heart, lungs and intestine. The stethoscope transmits sound from the head or chest piece, via air-filled hollow tubes, to the listener’s ears.

The value in this seemingly simple act is profound, both for horse owners and vets. For horse owners, knowing how to listen to their horse’s heart rate, respiratory rate and intestinal sounds is a fundamental skill, and should be performed when a horse is in good health so that a baseline is established.

For vets, auscultation is a fundamental part of assessing the health of a horse, the progression of disease or the efficacy of treatment.

Benefits

A simple, practical and very useful technique for understanding the function and condition of the organs ausculted.

Limitations

The technique is only as good as the clinician. Experience comes from listening to thousands of patients and knowing what is normal. Auscultation gives useful but limited information about the body systems assessed.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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