Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Feels Hot or Warm Generally

Code Green - Contact Your Vet to Obtain Useful Advice & Resources

Code Green - Contact Your Vet to Obtain Useful Advice & Resources

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

Mammals are able to change the temperature of their skin independent of their core body temperature by reducing or increasing blood flow to the skin. That said, warm skin often does mean a warm horse.

Horses that are exercising or have recently exercised have warm skin.

Horses that have a fever usually have warm-feeling skin.

This FAST FACT refers to a horse that feels warm overall. Heat in a localized area is also a cardinal sign of inflammation, so expect inflamed or injured areas to be warmer than surrounding skin throughout the healing process. Clipped areas too will also feel warm to the touch.

Certain drugs (sedatives, for example) may cause a horse’s skin temperature to feel warmer. Exercise also increases a horse’s temperature. Horses standing in the sun, particularly dark ones warm up significantly to the touch.


Assess your horse’s general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), paying particular attention to their rectal temperature, attitude and appetite. If your horse has a fever (temperature > 101.5), or is showing any other signs of illness or abnormalities, contact your vet with your findings and concerns.


Your vet performs a physical exam to determine the nature of the finding. They focus on rectal temperature, heart rate, gum color, and attitude and appetite. If fever is determined to be the cause, your vet may search for the cause using other diagnostics. Only in cases of extreme hyperthermia do we actively cool horses down.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP


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