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Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance

January 23, 2011

Endurance Blurbs: What does the vet score mean?

Mucous membranes
A. clear, pink & moist – indicates healthy, hydrated mucous membranes and horse! 

B. clear, pink or fawn, sticky – we would then look carefully at other indicators of hydration status, such as skin recoil (not reliable), gut sounds and general demeanour. 

C. injected or pale, dry – more cause for concern . “Injected” means a generally more intense or darker colour, approaching red rather than pink, caused usually by the blood being more concentrated due to loss of moisture through heavy sweating. Being too pale may indicate a horse with a poor blood picture from not enough red cells and/or not enough haemoglobin in the red cells due to heavy worm burden, poor diet, internal or external blood loss etc. Some healthy horses, however, can have paler gums than others.

D. discoloured, muddy/blue/purple – means your horse (and you) are in big trouble! Not only is there not enough fluid in the blood but the blood also does not have enough oxygen in it, because the low blood volume means that the blood can’t effectively be pumped through the lungs enough to lose carbon dioxide and pick up oxygen. There is also not enough blood to carry away other waste products to the liver and kidneys. The only chance here is that immediate and effective veterinary treatment with intravenous fluids in large volumes will help to restore adequate hydration.

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