What you see. The starting point for addressing any equine health related issue is your observation.


Dog-Sitting, Sitting on Hindquarters, Forequarters Raised


A dog-sitting horse sits on its hindquarters with the forequarters raised. Dog-sitting is an uncommon behavior in equines. It is usually associated with either abdominal pain (colic) or hind limb weakness, paralysis or pain. Horses with sand accumulation seem to dog-sit more frequently than horses with other conditions causing colic. Occasionally, normal healthy horses do this too.

  • Code Red

    Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours
    • If you notice other signs of abdominal pain (colic).
    • If this behavior persists without an apparent cause.
    • 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 this seems mild or occasional and the horse seems normal otherwise.
    • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) suggest the horse is otherwise normal.
You also might be observing
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your role


What To Do

Assess your horse's general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) and look for other signs of abdominal pain and especially assess attitude and appetite. Get the horse up and watch the behavior that ensues.

Did the horse have difficulty getting up? Did it stay up or return to this position? If the horse goes down again after you get them up or shows any other sign of illness, call your vet and share your findings and concerns.

What Not To Do

Do not ignore this behavior in any equine, assuming it is just normal behavior. Frequent dog-sitting can indicate a severe health problem. Be sure to have your vet assess general health and rule out common causes.

your vet's role

If this behavior is repetitive, your vet will try to rule out conditions causing abdominal pain (colic), as well as perform general physical, lameness and neurologic evaluation of the horse.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • Is the horse getting up and down repeatedly?
  • What happens when you try to get the horse up?
  • Does the horse have trouble getting back to its feet, or is it staggering or unsteady?
  • Are you seeing other signs of abdominal pain (colic)?
  • Have you noticed the horse showing lameness?
  • Do you notice any apparent unsteadiness or wobbliness?
  • Do you think the horse's attitude and appetite are normal?
  • Does the horse seem to be having difficulty urinating?

Diagnoses Your Vet May Consider

The cause of the problem. These are conditions or ailments that are the cause of the observations you make.

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Treatments Your Vet May Recommend

A way to resolve the condition or diagnosis. Resolving the underlying cause or treating the signs of disease (symptomatic treatment)

Very Common
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Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP