Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Capillary Refill Time (CRT) Prolonged

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

  • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) suggest the horse is otherwise normal.

Capillary Refill Time (CRT) is a rough indicator of blood pressure. Capillary refill time in a healthy horse should be about 1-2 seconds.

A prolonged capillary refill time suggests poor blood pressure and circulatory function. Dehydration or illness from a variety of causes may also play a role. Capillary refill time can appear increased in horses that have recently exercised. Head position and technique may influence CRT results too.


If you notice that your horse’s capillary refill time is prolonged, that is a good starting point for additional observation. Assess your horse’s general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), paying particular attention to attitude and appetite, hydration with skin pinch, heart rate, pulse quality and gum color. Share your findings and concerns with your vet.


A prolonged CRT can result from a huge variety of underlying causes. A vet’s role is to assess other indicators of cardiovascular function, as well as general health, to try to determine the nature of the observation. An abnormal CRT is often accompanied by other abnormalities that, taken together, assist your vet in choosing appropriate diagnostics, reaching a diagnosis, and suggesting treatment options.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP


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