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


Capillary Refill Time (CRT) Prolonged

Assess Capillary Refill Time (CRT) by Examining Gums


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.

  • 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.
You also might be observing
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your role


What To Do

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.

your vet's role

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.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • What made you check your horse's CRT in the first place?
  • What is the recent history?
  • Does the horse seem normal to you otherwise?
  • How is your horse's attitude and appetite?
  • Has the horse been exercised recently?
  • What is the Capillary Refill Time (CRT)?
  • What are the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE)?

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)

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Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP