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To call the vet or no?

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  • To call the vet or no?

    Hope you guys can help me out on a quick scenario... barn manager called last night and said that Sam's right eye was swollen and he had a scrape over it--looked like another gelding probably smacked him in the face while they were boxing. I couldn't get out there last night, but they gave him 2 grams of bute last night and 1 this morning. So I went out there this morning and the swelling has gone down considerably; his eye is watering a bit still and he's blinking a lot, but his eye's clear and mostly open, with just a little bit of swelling at the top.

    So I was prepared to call out the emergency vet today, but now that it looks so much better, I decided not to for right now... but with his eye being involved, I would rather be safe than sorry, and I assume he should probably get on antibiotics. Any thoughts? My options are see how it looks tomorrow and if it's continuing to get better, just leave it; possibly call the vet to see if I can just get antibiotics (though I have to drive an hour out there to get them if they don't come out) as a precaution; or have the vet out on Monday when it won't be an emergency call.

    Obviously if it looks any worse later today or tomorrow morning, I'll have the emergency vet out regardless, but it's looking so much better that I'm undecided.

    There's no cut, just a place where the hair above his eyelid was scraped off... I rinsed his eye with Clear Eyes and used a warm compress for a couple of minutes on it. He's acting normally, just cranky because he can't go out yet. (: He'll get some bute again tonight too...
    "Remain relentlessly cheerful."

    Graphite/Pastel Portraits

  • #2
    You'll want to call the vet. Eye scratches require different kinds of ointment depending on where the healing is at, and the vets use their own special eye viewing device to see what the scratch is doing and which ointment to use.


    • #3
      I'd call the vet. You don't get casual with eyes. But do you have any antibiotic opthalmic salve? Since he's getting better (and if I felt brave) I might put that in 2-3x today and give it until tomorrow morning. If it's still tearing and not quite open, then I'd call the vet without fail.

      Or why not put a "heads up"/trouble shooting type call into your vet today? Give him/her the option of coming today or getting up early on a Sunday morning for an emergency call.
      The armchair saddler
      Politically Pro-Cat


      • #4
        I would call the vet and ask their opinion about whether to come out or not. They will also advise the best treatment you can do on your own. It is better to call during the day for advice than wait to call in the middle of the night for an emergency.

        Good luck with your horse.


        • Original Poster

          Thanks everybody!
          "Remain relentlessly cheerful."

          Graphite/Pastel Portraits


          • #6
            Yup, I don't screw around with eyes. If it's still tearing, vet needs to stain it and see what's going on. By the way, banamine is usually used for eye inflammation.

            If you do decide to put in eye ointment, absolutely make sure it doesn't include a steroid unless the vet has stained the eye and confirmed there is no ulcer.


            • #7
              I'm with the others. Don't muck around with eyes - things can go south very quickly. Better safe than sorry....
              Y'all ain't right!


              • #8
                Eyes are something that can go bad quickly, so I would call the vet. They may opt to let it wait, based on discussion with you, but will be the best guidance as to what to do.

                Originally posted by LauraKY View Post
                If you do decide to put in eye ointment, absolutely make sure it doesn't include a steroid unless the vet has stained the eye and confirmed there is no ulcer.
                Yes, do make sure of this -- if the label mentions anything like dexameth... or corti... or hydrocort... that is a steroid and you do not want to use it until you can confirm there is no scratch or other injury that might ulcerate. I keep both steroid and non-steroid eye ointment in my first aid kit and have the steroid one well marked so I don't accidentally use it.


                • Original Poster

                  Thanks everybody! I talked to the vet and she says to wait and see how it looks by tomorrow; if it's not pretty much back to normal, or if it's still watering, she'll come out then--but since it's improved a lot already and the swelling's down and the eye's not cloudy, she thinks it will be okay to see if it clears up on its own first. I do feel better though now that I've talked with her, so I'm glad I called. (:
                  "Remain relentlessly cheerful."

                  Graphite/Pastel Portraits


                  • #10
                    Good thing you called. The only good thing about eye injuries is that I don't feel inclined to agonize over calling the vet or not. I just know to call the vet.
                    Any time someone talks about their horse in a bar, there's love in the room.


                    • #11
                      My two cents... personally, I'm of the "wait and see" school of thought on injuries like this, and I'll tell you why... some years ago I got to the barn and found my pony gelding with a swelling the size of a baseball over one eye. I freaked out, called the vet who looked at it and told me to cold hose it for twenty minutes twice a day until the swelling went down. No antibiotics or other medication necessary. I paid the after-hours emergency fee (gulp) and the vet left.

                      Two days later another horse in my barn had the same thing happen (total coincidence). They cold hosed the eye for twenty minutes twice a day and didn't have to pay the emergency fee. Hmm.

                      So yes, I will call the vet and discuss it, but unless the eye itself is actually scratched, will probably not have the vet out for an injury like the OP described
                      Vancouver Equine


                      • #12
                        Van, I have to say you guys were lucky.
                        I've dealt with eye issues before, so I know to call the vet in sooner, rather than later. Last spring my daughter's horse was squinting a bit - no tearing, no swelling, just squinting. I called the vet out. He stained the eye (nothing), gave it a once-over and left me with ointment 'just in case'. A couple days later the eye had some tearing and the horse was still squinting. Another check by the vet showed a little something that stained. My local vets wanted me to wait and see and maybe try something else. I told them to call the vet school optho and let them know I was on the way. We went right away.
                        To keep an already long story from getting longer, that horse spent 5 weeks at the vet school and another two at a rehab barn with a viscious fungal infection deep in his eye. If I hadn't acted quickly, he would definitely have lost the eye. As it was, he almost did anyway and he had two serious colics while he was at the vet school.
                        My first experience with eyes was with my (now totally blind) old appy mare who went blind in her 'good eye' in the space of a day. From the time she lost sight in the eye on Friday to the time I was able to pick her up in Florida and get her to the vet school on Monday things had gotten so bad that she had glaucoma and after a super-expensive course of meds had the eye removed.
                        Those were first and latest - not only - eye issues. So yeah, I take eye stuff seriously. I hope no one else has the kinds of experiences I've had, and maybe, just maybe, calling the vet instead of waiting might make the difference....
                        I'll say it again; it's better to be safe than sorry!
                        Y'all ain't right!


                        • #13
                          Here is my list of "stuff I don't screw around with":

                          1) eyes. If there is suspected eye involvement, I will not wait. Period. To me, it's emergent. Why? Because if you put the wrong crap in, you can screw the pooch and if you do nothing? It can turn into something worse. I'd rather rule out an ulceration or abrasion via staining and then treat surrounding areas. I do not screw with eyes.

                          2) 3 legged lameness--unable to bear weight on affected leg. Do not pass go, do not collect 200 dollars.

                          3) Elevated temp. My mare went from a 101 to a 105 in less than 4 hours. When I first called the vet, she wasn't that worried. I insisted. By the time she was out, my mare was at 105 and was diagnosed with Potomac. I don't screw around with elevated temps.

                          4) Off feed/water. Though usually this goes along with an elevated temp once you check it. Horses that go off feed/water are usually pretty danged sick even if they're otherwise stoic. I'd rather pay the emergency call and avoid hospitalization by stabilizing them quickly than play the wait and see game and significantly reduce the good prognosis as I've seen so many others do.

                          5) Anything involving a possible puncture to the joint.

                          6) profuse bleeding.

                          I worked in veterinary medicine for long enough to feel comfortable assessing things...and even deciding to watch and wait a bit. But there are some things I just won't screw around with because letting them go even 24 additional hours can be the difference between a good prognosis and a bad one. I don't like taking those risks.
                          A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                          Might be a reason, never an excuse...


                          • #14
                            Buddy Roo, excellent set of rules. You must have written the book I use every day.

                            I do have one other for one particular horse. If he's ever off or not quite right, it's catastrophic. He's NEVER off; the most stoic animal I've ever worked with.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by BuddyRoo View Post
                              Here is my list of "stuff I don't screw around with"...
                              Me too. Any of those at the very least warrant a call to my vet to discuss the issue thoroughly. And yeah, I've had an unnecessary vet bill or two (the gelding who was tangled in a wire fence and had horrific looking injuries and wouldn't put any weight at all on the worst looking leg until approximately 3 minutes before the vet--who I had called 45 minutes before after 20 or so minutes of evaluation after freeing the horse--arrived, at which point he started acting like nothing was wrong, comes to mind), but I've seen so many of those situations that could have been so much worse had the vet not been consulted and in that case I'd rather be safe than sorry.

                              OP, glad you called the vet and glad you feel better. I hope your pony heals up quick!
                              exploring the relationship between horse and human


                              • #16
                                Eyes are a red alert no matter what! Period. Call the vet immediately and ask for same day/night examination.

                                My guy has allergies but in the 11 yrs I've known him, he's never had a watery or runny or swollen eye. I came out one morning to find not only a very watery eye but a very pussy or mucousy-looking discharge. No swelling but some conjunctivitis. I immediately called the vet. By the time the vet got there and looked at it and determined no scratches on the cornea, I suggested a plugged naso-lacrimal duct. Vet flushed it and a mess more mucous came out. I've had it flushed twice more. One more emergency (same day) call and the last one, I do admit to asking for 2nd day service because I was pretty sure it was plugged again. Yep.

                                I'm not saying let's go kill all the stupid people...I'm just saying let's remove all the warning labels and let the problem sort itself out.


                                • #17
                                  Buddyroo, that is my list too, but I am printing it off and posting it in the barn.

                                  I prefer to pay a vet, especially if I am away, then to take a wait and see on some things.

                                  I also have the fluorscent stains, and eye ointment, but I never do anything without first calling the vet and informing them of what is going on. Generally, I treat with the antibiotic ointment(no sterorid) and if not better in am, vet is out.

                                  Eyes as well as other things can go south overnight very easily.

                                  thanks for your list buddyroo!
                                  save lives...spay/neuter/geld


                                  • #18
                                    FIve? LOL. You want my actual flow chart/decision tree? Cuz there is one! LOL
                                    A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                                    Might be a reason, never an excuse...


                                    • #19
                                      Anything eye...call the vet.
                                      "Sic Gorgiamus Allos Subjectatos Nunc"


                                      • #20
                                        Yes, I would love it.

                                        I really hate when I leave telling people, ok, so when horse come in, look at them and how they walk, then look at both eyes, and then make sure they finish their grain and are eating hay, if anyone isn't, or is kicking their bellly, or God forbid, tell the boys, if a horse has an erection and not peeing, or rolling, and on and on...I think by the time I am done, the crap is scared out of them.

                                        So, yeah, I'd love your flow chart. LOL

                                        I am sure others would too! Although, I swear, the only reason I have a cell phone is so when I go away, I can be contacted.

                                        I had one girl...she was great, she'd send me photos of my horses when I was away. Dobbin says hi with his pic.
                                        Actually, one time, my little colt, about a year old, banged his eye. She called me, and I asked her to have the vet out, she sent me the pic of his eye, and I said, get the vet out...even if no corneal abrasion, I want him seen by a vet, just in case. cell pics and phones are a handy thing.

                                        Good list Buddyroo. I bet your decision making chart is just as good.
                                        save lives...spay/neuter/geld