Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Membranes of Mouth, Gums appear Pale

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

Code Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

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

  • 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 Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

  • If the problem is subtle or slowly changing.
  • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) suggest the horse is otherwise normal.

There are a few areas on the body that provide important information regarding the state of a horse’s circulatory health. These areas include the gums, the pink membrane inside the nostrils, the whites of the eyes, and the pink inner vulvar membranes of mares. That said, the simple act of evaluating the color of your horse’s gums is a very important skill.

Pale mucous membranes are seen in horses that are anemic (low red blood cell count), in pain, or in shock. A pale color can also be confused with normal, because some horses have more pale appearing gums than others. Always compare the appearance to the opposite side of the mouth, and to the color of the gums in other healthy horses. Consider the light quality, as that can change the appearance of the gums significantly.

WHAT TO DO

When in doubt, assess your horse’s general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), paying particular attention to capillary refill rate and heart rate. Look for other signs of illness or disease and carefully consider attitude and appetite. Call your vet to discuss your concerns. They may advise you to take a “wait and see” approach or suggest that they examine your horse. Much of this will depend on history and the presence or absence of other concerning signs.

WHAT YOUR VET DOES

Your vet will assess your horse’s general health with a physical examination, and will try to determine whether it is a significant problem. Blood work may provide additional important information.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

CONTACT US

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Sending