Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Playing in Water Excessively Without Drinking

Code Red - Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours

Code Orange - Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours

Code Red - Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours

  • If the horse has no appetite and is obviously depressed.
  • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) in the resting horse indicate fever (Temp>101F/38.3C) or heart rate greater than 48 BPM.

Code Orange - Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours

  • If the behavior continues with no explanation.
  • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) suggest the horse is otherwise normal.

Many horses enjoy playing in their water bucket or trough, splashing with their lips and muzzle.

But horses that are ill from a variety of causes will also immerse their muzzle in their water source, and splash incessantly, sometimes for hours. This behavior can be a sign of a severe problem and a reason to look for other signs of illness.

WHAT TO DO

Assess the horse’s general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), paying particular attention to attitude, appetite, rectal temperature, gum color, refill time and heart rate. Offer feed to further observe attitude and appetite. Attempt to walk the horse a short distance to observe ability to move normally.

If you consider this normal behavior for your horse and you see no other signs of illness, it may not be a problem. However, if this is a recent or new behavior or accompanied by any other signs of illness, contact your vet to discuss your findings and concerns.

WHAT YOUR VET DOES

Your vet considers this behavior along with the horse’s history, general attitude and appetite, and other physical exam findings.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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