What Should I Expect From a Veterinary Visit?

I am looking for general information regarding my vet and horse care. What should I expect from my vet?

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What Should I Expect From a Veterinary Visit?
Photo: Kevin Thompson/The Horse

Q: I am looking for general information regarding my veterinarian and horse care. What should I expect from the veterinarian? I feel like she just provides shots, but there is really no physical examination. Is there a set protocol or standard that I should be asking for? She does shots and moves on to the next horse, and that is about it. My dog gets a more thorough physical exam when I take him to the vet.–Paula, via email

A: Here is a prime example of where communication between owner and veterinarian is critical—so that there are few misunderstandings! Perhaps you asked your veterinarian to come out to “give vaccinations,” which is what happened. Although if a horse appeared to be clinically ill, it likely would have resulted in a physical examination and further work-up instead of vaccination!

If you would like a physical examination on every animal on an annual basis, you should discuss this with your veterinarian. Ask her to develop a preventive medicine schedule for your horses. This usually includes physical examinations, vaccinations, deworming, dental care, reproductive services, etc. The extra time for a physical examination might not be covered in the farm call and vaccination fees, but that is exactly what you need to discuss. Older and special needs horses might require routine blood work and other services. Prior to your veterinarian’s next visit, ask to schedule some extra time to discuss these matters. Veterinary services can be tailored to suit the needs of the horses and client.


Written by:

Roberta Dwyer, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVPM, is an equine extension veterinarian and professor at the University of Kentucky, in Lexington, where she also serves as director of the preveterinary advising program. She specializes in veterinary preventative medicine.

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