The most common causes related to internal diseases for which horses are referred urgently are: colic, acute diarrhoea, atypical myopathy, oesophageal obstruction, respiratory distress, fever of unknown origin, dystocia, caesarean section, epistaxis, neurological signs, intoxication.
Immediate and appropriate treatment depending on pathology.
Colic : Colic is a general term for acute abdominal pain. The horse has little appetite, rolls over, lies down etc. Immediate attention is required as well as frequent monitoring. Some causes of colic are resolved with medical treatment, others are more severe and may require abdominal surgery.
Acute diarrhoea : Diarrhoea can range from mild to severe and can lead to shock. Hospitalization is then essential.
Atypical myopathy : Myopathy is a muscle disease with a poor prognosis caused by the ingestion of a toxin present in sycamore seedlings and seeds.
Esophageal obstruction : Some severe esophageal obstructions are difficult to clear in the field and the horse must be transported to a clinic. Also, complications may occur such as severe oesophageal damage or aspiration pneumonia requiring more extensive treatment.
Respiratory distress : The presence of respiratory distress in the horse is an emergency. In some cases, a tracheotomy or oxygen may be required and intensive treatment may be required depending on the cause.
Fever : Fever is a common symptom. The causes can be multiple and sometimes difficult to determine. Numerous additional examinations are sometimes useful.
Dystocia : Dystocia means difficulty in giving birth. This is a vital emergency for both the foal and the mother. Quick action is required. Different solutions can be considered, such as repositioning the foetus, performing an emergency caesarean section...
Caesarean section : When a foaling is prolonged and the foal cannot be taken out by natural means, an emergency caesarean section may be necessary. This is also carried out in the case of serious pathology and vital emergencies for the mare (e.g. severe colic, fractures, etc.) in order to save the foal. When this procedure is performed, a large team is present to take care of the mare and to resuscitate the foal.
Epistaxis : When the horse has a nose bleed, it is important to carry out further examinations. In some cases, the bleeding can be caused by a pathology that can be fatal for the horse. Indeed, the presence of a fungus in the guttural pouches can cause erosion of large arteries and lead to extremely severe bleeding. Other causes of bleeding (e.g. exercise-induced pulmonary haemorrhage, sinusitis, progressive ethmoidal haematoma, etc.) have less serious consequences, but prompt veterinary consultation can help determine the origin of the bleeding and establish treatment.
Neurological signs : Neurological signs may appear acutely, e.g. a horse unable to stand, incoordination in gait or the presence of convulsions etc.
The causes can be very diverse such as a fall, viral infection, intoxication etc. This sometimes requires emergency treatment and transport, for example by a horse ambulance.
Poisoning : Poisoning in horses can have more or less serious consequences. In particular, there are certain poisonous plants that must be recognised in order to prevent the horse from being exposed to them.