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


Feels Hot or Warm Generally


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.

  • 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.

your role


What To Do

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.

What Not To Do

Do not assume that because a horse feels hot to you, that it necessarily has fever. Always take rectal temperature.

your vet's role

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.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • Does your horse seem normal otherwise?
  • Did your horse exercise recently?
  • Is the horse showing other signs of problems?
  • How is your horse's attitude and appetite?
  • What is the horse's rectal temperature?
  • Has your horse been standing in the sun?
  • What are the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE)?
  • Was your horse recently blanketed?

Diagnostics Your Vet May Perform

Figuring out the cause of the problem. These are tests or procedures used by your vet to determine what’s wrong.

Very Common
more diagnostics

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
more treatments

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP