Know How to Use A Stethoscope Before You Need It

The stethoscope is a valuable part of any equine first-aid kit. Here, Juliet Getty, PhD, explains why this piece of equipment is important and why horse owners should know how to use it before an emergency occurs.
Share
Favorite
Close

No account yet? Register

ADVERTISEMENT

The stethoscope is a valuable part of any equine first-aid kit. Here, Juliet Getty, PhD, of Getty Equine Nutrition, explains why this piece of equipment is important and why horse owners should know how to use it before an emergency occurs.

Your emergency kit likely includes a stethoscope–a highly valuable piece of equipment during any urgent health situation. Knowing your horse's normal heart rate and gut sounds beforehand will allow you to better assess the seriousness of the situation–so use your stethoscope now.

A resting pulse is typically between 32 and 40 beats per minute (ponies' tend to have slightly higher pulse rates). Place the stethoscope in front of the girth area, just behind the elbow. Using the sweep second hand on your watch or a stop watch (or a similar feature on a cell phone), count the number of beats for 30 seconds and double it to get beats per minute. Measure at various times of day, such as before and after eating or at any change in circumstances or activity level; this will give you a clear idea of how your horse generally responds to his environment. Marked deviation from normal (without obvious explanation such as exercise) can indicate infection, pain, or illness.

Your stethoscope is also useful for listening to gut sounds. It is normal and healthy for sounds to come from the digestive tract due to the movement of feed, gas, and fluid. Intestines are made of muscles; processing forage continuously provides the necessary exercise to keep these muscles in good condition. Normally, the sounds will be low in pitch with some growling. Some colic cases occur when there is a change within the intestines (often due to obstruction, gas, or torsion) and sounds change or stop altogether. If you don't hear any noise, or if the sounds have become higher pitched, significantly slowed, or sound hollow, colic is likely and you should contact your veterinarian immediately

Create a free account with TheHorse.com to view this content.

TheHorse.com is home to thousands of free articles about horse health care. In order to access some of our exclusive free content, you must be signed into TheHorse.com.

Start your free account today!

Already have an account?
and continue reading.

Share

Written by:

Product and information releases by various organizations and companies.

Related Articles

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with

FREE weekly newsletters from TheHorse.com

Sponsored Content

Weekly Poll

sponsored by:

What lameness issues has your horse experienced? Select all that apply.
267 votes · 534 answers

Readers’ Most Popular

Sign In

Don’t have an account? Register for a FREE account here.

Need to update your account?

You need to be logged in to fill out this form

Create a free account with TheHorse.com!