Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Neglect Suspected, What to Do?

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

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

    Neglect is the failure to provide adequate food, shelter, farrier, medical or dental care to a horse that results in a poor quality of life, pain and suffering or premature death.

    Signs of neglect include underweight skinny body condition (very bony or ribby), poor or severely unkempt hair coat, very overgrown or cracked hooves, severe lameness over a long period, inability to eat, being unable to rise, and general malaise. Without adequate nutrition and good care, a variety of health conditions may result.

    WHAT TO DO

    If you suspect that a horse is being neglected, first recognize that there may be an explanation. A thin horse is not necessarily a neglected horse. Perhaps the horse has a medical condition and is being treated for the problem, or is just very old but is otherwise well cared for.

    Do not approach or otherwise confront the owner of the horse. An allegation of neglect is very serious and may result in civil or criminal penalties for an owner and even confiscation of the animal. Intervention will likely be taken as a personal affront to the owner, and may result in an emotionally charged response.

    Talk to your vet and get their advice on how to proceed. They are rooted in the local animal-owning community and will have advice or provide you with other resources.

    WHAT YOUR VET DOES

    Your vet may refer you to a local horse shelter, state livestock board, state vet’s office, or animal rescue organization. Each state has unique laws that govern an owner’s responsibility and the power of the state to intervene.

    What Not To Do

    Do not approach or otherwise confront the owner of the horse. Do not trespass on private land to confirm your hunch.

    Never feed or provide medical treatment to someone else's horse without first discussing the situation with them or an appropriate authority.

    Identify or Rule-Out Possible CausesDIAGNOSES

    POSSIBLE TREATMENTS or TherapiesTo Lessen or Resolve the Sign

    QUESTIONS MY VET MIGHT ASKQUESTIONS MY VET MIGHT ASK

    Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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