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How to check a horses heart rate?

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  • How to check a horses heart rate?

    My gelding Grem is going through a really bad time with acute Laminitis. My vet and I are in contact several times a day but he would like me and my trainer to take his vitals several times a day and report them to him but I do not know how to take his heart rate.

    Can anyone explain how to do that?
    RIP Sucha Smooth Whiskey
    May 17,2004 - March 29, 2010
    RIP San Lena Peppy
    May 3, 1991 - March 11, 2010

  • #2
    I always used a stethoscope and counted the beats for 15 seconds, then multiplied that number by 4. That gives you beats per minute.

    You can pick up an inexpensive stethoscope at a shop that sells nurses' scrubs (like Work N Gear - local malls have scrub shops too) or a medical supply company.

    Best wishes for your boy.

    Taryn

    Comment


    • #3
      You can also try to find a place where you can feel his pulse, and count the number of pusle/beats in 15 timed seconds, then multiply by four. His pulse will be just what his heart beats are (beause his heart is what makes the blood pulse, right?) See if you can find a spot on the underside of his throat, or in his pastern. If you can't, then go buy a stethoscope. Probably a good idea to have one, anyway.
      Airborne? Oh. Yes, he can take a joke. Once. After that, the joke's on you.

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      • #4
        If he's having laminitis issues, you may be able to pick up a digital pulse.
        Good idea to check the intensity of same, even if you do use a stethoscope.
        thehorse.com has a couple short videos on how to do both of the above.
        (Sorry I can't link to them, but none of those buttons have worked since the COTH "upgrade"...)
        "It's like a Russian nesting doll of train wrecks."--CaitlinandTheBay

        ...just settin' on the Group W bench.

        Comment


        • #5
          This is a print-out from a seminar at a local vet clinic on taking vitals.

          We got to practice and I found the facial artery easier than using a stethoscope.


          http://www.clearylakevets.com/Semina...orse.vital.pdf

          The pulse rate & respiratory rate can be taken without a stethoscope, but a stethoscope can make it a lot easier.

          If a stethoscope is not available you can take your horse’s pulse using the facial artery. This artery can be found at the bottom side of the jaw where it crosses over the bone. Count the beats for 15 seconds, and multiply by four to achieve beats per minute.

          You can use a stethoscope to listen to the heart beating in the chest. Place the stethoscope on the left side of the chest just behind the elbow. It is often easier to hear if that leg is forward. You will have to apply some pressure to hear it. Each “lub-dub” is one beat. Again count for 15 seconds, and multiply by four.
          When taking a pulse with your fingers, make sure to use your index/middle fingers and not your thumb. (Your own pulse may be strong enough to be felt in your thumbs and can screw you up.)

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            Originally posted by Ghazzu View Post
            If he's having laminitis issues, you may be able to pick up a digital pulse.
            Good idea to check the intensity of same, even if you do use a stethoscope.
            thehorse.com has a couple short videos on how to do both of the above.
            (Sorry I can't link to them, but none of those buttons have worked since the COTH "upgrade"...)

            Thanks Ghazzu! I just watched the video on The Horse and now I know how to also look for the digital pulse......very handy with a lamanitic horse!!
            RIP Sucha Smooth Whiskey
            May 17,2004 - March 29, 2010
            RIP San Lena Peppy
            May 3, 1991 - March 11, 2010

            Comment


            • #7
              I use the carotid, at the base of the neck, but this only works if the horse is standing quietly. Of course this is true for taking a pulse anywhere! The other spot I like is under the jawbone and all of my horses seem to have a nifty little pulse off to the side of their withers, which is handy for checking a pulse from in the saddle.

              For a newbie, I'd recommend a stethoscope, which is something handy to have in your vet box anyway. But spend the $20 for a halfway decent one; the $9.99 specials are c-r-a-p.
              Click here before you buy.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by deltawave View Post
                For a newbie, I'd recommend a stethoscope, which is something handy to have in your vet box anyway. But spend the $20 for a halfway decent one; the $9.99 specials are c-r-a-p.
                Any way besides price to differentiate between decent and crap (when looking online I mean)? If I look on eBay and see one for $9.99, it could be worth that, or more, or less!
                Shall I tell you what I find beautiful about you? You are at your very best when things are worst.
                Starman

                Comment


                • #9
                  Good question, hmmm. I guess in this day where "suggested retail price" means next to nothing, it's hard to know. But I can tell you that I won't even touch one of those cheap, nasty ones. I'm not being a snob, they just SUCK. They hurt your ears, and you literally cannot hear anything. Maybe for just counting heartbeats they're adequate, barely, but I loathe them.

                  I'm not sure how you could tell by looking at a picture, really. It's all a matter of quality, and the head and the tubing are the crucial bits. But if I were shopping for a new one (I'm not, I've had the same stethoscope for 20 years and I just keep replacing parts as needed!) I know I'd be looking to spend $150-200, just to give you a comparison. Obviously nobody needs to spend anything like that for a basic "listen to gut and heart sounds" instrument, but if you're interested in having more of a quality piece, maybe a trip to a nursing supply store (where they sell scrubs, etc.) would give you a sense of what you like. Or send me a link, I'm happy to give an opinion.
                  Click here before you buy.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Need a backup from a med professional on this, but IIRC, a "bell" transducer is preferred for monitoring heartrate over a "diaphragm" design because it's more sensitive to low frequencies. The diaphragm is for monitoring higher frequency sounds.

                    My (now retired) mechanic had one with the "bell" or "trumpet" end that he uses along with his conventional probe stethoscope. You might try the auto supply houses. Dunno how well it would work on a horse, though.
                    The inherent vice of Capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.
                    Winston Churchill

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Just to check a heart rate? Either bell or diaphragm is fine. My scope has both, and I usually use the diaphragm side.

                      Totally agree with DW on the el cheapo scopes. I had an old $4.99 State Line Tack stethoscope that I bought many years ago, before I had even worked in the veterinary field. Had to use it the other day because we had a horse colicking and my other stethoscopes were at home/all the way out in my trailer. I couldn't even get a HR with the darn thing, let alone gut sounds!

                      It got "donated" to the barn after that.
                      ~Nancy~

                      Adams Equine Wellness

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        For listening to heart rate, either bell or diaphragm will do. It takes a fairly "tuned" ear and a VERY, VERY quiet environment to enjoy the benefits of a bell. I do happen to hate the "all in one" combo 'scopes, though. I'm an old-fashioned curmudgeon with the switchable kind, and much prefer the bell for certain things. But I can count on quiet and cooperative patients most of the time!
                        Click here before you buy.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          You can feel at his foot.
                          You can feel at his jawline.
                          You can listen via stethoscope.
                          You can get/buy a HRM.
                          You can get/buy an instant read HRM. Those you just place on the side of the horse and it reads out fairly instantly.

                          Those instant ones we have at most endurance rides here in the SE. And many people own their own their own.

                          I know on my dog, I can feel a pulse in the ear.

                          Most horses are 28-35 bpm at rest. When doing a pulse I usually time it for 30 seconds, not 15.

                          This is a really good thing to know how to do. IF the hr is high or out of norm for you horse something is wrong. Know what is normal for your horse. At rest is the best time. Also learn the sounds and where to listen for guts sounds, that way you know if something is not right with your horse. You will have a baseline for both. Also count his breaths for a minute, the vet will want to know what his respiration is also. You can count by watching his nostrils, or watching his belly. Like I said, all of these will be baselines for the future. And when he is better, you will see the difference in the high hr, respiration, etc and lower ones when he feels better. Oh I forgot, also check his gums. You can push your thumb on his gums and see how fast they turn back to pink. If the horse is healthy and ok, it will go back to pink fast, understress, slower. Once again, know what your horses specifics are, then you will know if something isn't right. Ok, ok, last one, do a skin pinch. Gently pinch the skin at the neck. If the skin goes back quickly, the horse is well hydrated. If the skin sinks slowly back to normal, the horse needs more fluids.

                          For the hrm, you can use some ekg gel or water to get a good connection with the electrodes.

                          Many do this for endurance riding/training. Hope it isn't too much info. If I have to go to the vet, I want this info handy. They will want to know this also.

                          If you were local I would let you use my hrm. They are handy to have.

                          Hope your horse gets better.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Here is a link to an inexpensive but decent-looking stethoscope, the kind I vastly prefer. You actually can't even buy the "original" ones of this type any more. I have one, it's priceless to me. Good replacement parts are getting harder to find, too. I keep saying when the old stethoscope quits, I'm going to retire. Maybe go to vet school.

                            Looks like they have veterinary stethoscopes, too--who knew?
                            Click here before you buy.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              The only difference between the veterinary and human stethoscopes is the length of the tubing. The veterinary one is 32", I think the human ones run 27" or so, depending on model. Maybe they think we don't want to be as close to our patients?

                              Both of my scopes are "human" models. In fact, I don't think I've ever used a specifically veterinary one. Someone I used to work with in a small animal clinic even had a human pediatric one and really liked it for cats and dogs.
                              ~Nancy~

                              Adams Equine Wellness

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by deltawave View Post
                                Here is a link to an inexpensive but decent-looking stethoscope, the kind I vastly prefer.
                                Can't beat that -- you can match your cross country colors.

                                --
                                Wendy
                                --
                                Wendy
                                ... and Patrick

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  My tubes are 14 inches! The shorter the better. I have to pray my patients have used deodorant. And make sure I don't eat onions for lunch.
                                  Click here before you buy.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by deltawave View Post
                                    ...It takes a fairly "tuned" ear and a VERY, VERY quiet environment to enjoy the benefits of a bell...
                                    I had better luck with a bell. But it's probably a carry-over from my ham radio hobby -- digging improbably weak signals out of the static.

                                    The "static" when using the diaphragm type was the rubbing of hair over the surface.
                                    The inherent vice of Capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.
                                    Winston Churchill

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      If you live in an area with a community/vocational college that has a nursing program they will often sell decent quality stethoscopes in the book store.
                                      Susan B.
                                      http://canterberrymeadows.com/

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by deltawave View Post
                                        Looks like they have veterinary stethoscopes, too--who knew?
                                        Just have longer tubes, handy for squirmy horses and not getting your head so close.......
                                        Turn off the computer and go ride!

                                        Comment

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