As a patient at the Equine Hospital

The Equine Hospital provides high-quality examinations and care for both outpatients and horses staying at the Hospital for a longer period of time. This website provides information and treatment instructions for the owners of horses arriving and staying for treatment at the Equine Hospital.  The Equine Hospital publications page contains articles written by our veterinarians on equine wellbeing and healthcare.

Book an appointment in advance through appointment booking. If you are unable to keep the appointment, please cancel it as soon as possible by calling the patient office. The cancellation must be done no later than the morning of the appointment. An administrative fee will be charged for an appointment that has not been cancelled.

Bring the horse’s passport with you. It is also recommended that you provide treatment and examination details if another veterinarian has treated the horse for the same condition or the horse arrives for further examination with a referral from another veterinarian.

When arriving at the Equine Hospital, please first register at the patient office. The patient office records the basic information related to the owner and the horse as well as the reason for the visit. After registration, the horse will be taken to the Equine Hospital’s stables for examination. When needed, the horse will be given its own (fee-based) stall.

There is a small waiting room for owners at the Equine Hospital with coffee and refreshment vending machines. Nearby student restaurants offer lunch and snacks.

Equine HospitalInstructions for horses arriving for surgery

The horse must fast for approximately 12 hours before the operation, in other words it should not be given food the previous evening. It is recommended that the horse is brought to the hospital the previous evening to ensure that it has recovered from transport and is calm before anaesthesia. A horse arriving for surgery should be clean, so it is recommended it is bathed at home, if needed. To ensure the safety of anaesthesia, the shoes will be removed at the clinic before the operation at the latest. Please also check that the horse has a valid tetanus vaccination before the operation. If needed, it can be given during the procedure.

After surgery, the horse will convalesce at home according to the instructions provided by the hospital. The bandages are usually changed every one or two days. It is also recommended that the horse’s temperature, food intake and amount of defecation is monitored. Should the temperature rise above 38.5 degree Celsius, the horse display pain or changes in the operated area become visible, contact the Equine Hospital.

Gelding

Gelding is performed under anaesthesia with the closed method.

Arthroscopies and other orthopaedic surgeries

The hospital performs arthroscopies both for patients with appointments and emergencies. Joint flushes under endoscopy are often the best option both with regard to the assessment of the condition and the efficiency of the lavage. The Equine Hospital also performs corrective surgery on fractures. Information about joint–tendon sheath cuts and infections

Larynx surgeries

Changes in the larynx can be operated on both under anaesthesia and under sedation with a laser. When needed, the diagnosis can be ascertained with a treadmill examination.

Laparoscopies

The whole abdominal cavity can be examined while the horse is standing with a laparoscope. It is possible also to take and study tissue samples. Repeated changes of position of the large intestine on top of the spleen can be avoided by attaching the spleen to the wall of the abdominal cavity. Other laparoscopic surgeries include the removal of retained testicles and ovariectomy.

Horse colic surgery

At times the only treatment for horse colic is surgery. Colic surgery is always an emergency and most clinics do not have the capacity to perform the operation and its aftercare. At the Equine Hospital, colic surgeries are performed by experienced surgeons assisted by younger veterinarians. 

If a horse has colic requiring surgery, its final diagnosis and the horse’s prognosis are usually confirmed only during the operation. The survival prognosis of large intestinal colic is about 75% and small intestinal colic about 50%. The horse will spend one week on average at the hospital after the surgery.

Risks

Complication risks related to colic surgery include problems related to anaesthesia (muscle injury, nerve damage, death under anaesthesia, injuries occurring during waking up, pneumonia), problems related to the healing of the surgical wound (wound infection, stiches coming loose, hernia), problems related to the healing of the intestine (constipation), and the body’s inflammatory responses and the compensatory anti-inflammatory response (endotoxemia, peritonitis, vasculitis, laminitis) as well as, in individual cases, chronic repeated colic (attachments). It is impossible to list all of the possible problems but small intestinal colic and a twisted large colon are both more prone to complications. The convalescence period after a successful operation to the normal condition is approximately four months. A colic surgery will not remove a horse’s predisposition to colic, and the horse will have a statistically higher risk for recurring colic than a horse that has never had colic.

Price of surgery

An approximate price estimate for colic surgery is €5,000–7,000, but the overall price varies a great deal depending on the time of the operation (daytime/on-call hours/night) and the amount of aftercare required by the horse. For example, in small intestinal colic, where part of the intestine has to be removed and there is no bowel movement for several days after the operation, the total price may rise to over €10,000 due to the enormous volume of liquid required by the horse and aftercare.
The shoes will be removed from the horse for anaesthesia to prevent it from hurting itself when waking up.

More information on equine surgery

A horse is a demanding animal to anaesthetise, and there is a larger risk for complications in anaesthetising horses than, for example, small animals. The Veterinary Teaching Hospital has invested a great deal in ensuring the safety of the anaesthesia of our equine patients. The anaesthesia, pain relief and intravenous rehydration are planned individually for each patient at the Equine Hospital. Good pain relief during surgery promotes the patient’s wellbeing and quick recovery after the operation. Trained and experienced veterinary nurses monitor anaesthesia, supported by an equine veterinarian and state-of-the-art anaesthesia monitoring devices.

The horse must fast overnight before the surgery. You can bring the horse to fast at the hospital the evening before the surgery. If the horse has shoes, they will be removed before anaesthesia. The horse will be sedated, after which it will be lowered on its side in a controlled manner in a padded stall. During the operation, the blood pressure and the levels of respiratory gases and general anaesthetic are continuously monitored. In most cases, we will also take blood samples during anaesthesia to monitor the status of the patient’s body. We will also trace the horse’s electrocardiogram (ECG) and ensure sufficient oxygen flow to the tissues.  The owner can watch the operation through a window in the operating theatre. After the operation, the horse will wake up and get up on its feet in a padded stall. The patient is then moved from the recovery room to a stall in the stables and, depending on the case, can be discharged to go home either the same evening or the next day.

The most common non-urgent operations include castration and removal of osteochondral fragments. Treatment of colic and cuts are among the most common emergency operations

A veterinarian may determine that a horse requires hospital treatment. All horses are taken good care of at the hospital and there is at least a nurse present at all times. We will call (either the veterinarian or a student participating in the treatment) the owner about the horse’s condition daily unless otherwise agreed. We aim to ensure that the same members of staff treat the patient all the time, but due to night work and teaching, the veterinarian in charge may change. Veterinarians are aware of the circumstances of all the hospital patients in their specialty. We will typically call during the afternoon if the horse is not suffering from an acute ailment. Other members of staff are not able to comment on the condition of your horse. If there is a significant change in the horse’s condition, we will contact you as soon as possible, but we will first administer the necessary urgent treatment.

Treatment costs
The horse’s accumulated treatment costs will be disclosed daily but in many cases it is impossible to estimate the overall costs accurately in advance. Recovery speed, complications and changes in medication as well as the need for supportive care will affect the total costs. The hospital does not know the terms of your horse’s insurance, so the accurate answer to the question of your horse’s treatment costs is only available from the insurance representative of your insurance company. According to the hospital protocol, once the treatment costs exceed €2,000, the accumulated costs will be charged as an advance payment even with continued treatment. NB! The advance payment does not apply to LocalTapiola’s direct compensation patients.

Personal belongings
We will not assume responsibility for the horse’s personal belongings or feed, so please only leave a halter for the horse at the hospital, and do not leave reins or a rug. If the horse’s condition allows it to walk outside in an enclosure, this will be agreed with the veterinarian.

Visiting hours
As a rule, visiting hours are between 16.00 and 18.00. Especially during patient rounds, the owners are not allowed to be present due to the teaching situation as well as the need to protect the data of the patients. We kindly ask you to register with the staff upon arrival.

Quarantine
Patients are quite often treated in quarantine at the hospital for a variety of reasons, the most common of which include diarrhoea, fever or a recent trip abroad. Please ask for advice on clothing and movement around the horse before visiting your quarantined horse. When needed, the hospital will take samples related to hygiene from all patients.

Discharge
It is our wish that the horse will be picked up to go home between 8.00 and 21.00. As a rule, the invoice is paid when picking up the horse (cash, debit cards and common credit cards are accepted). The clinic also has the opportunity to offer an instalment scheme through the financing companies Lowell and SAV. The clinic has a direct compensation agreement with LocalTapiola, and we will need the horse’s insurance number for it. Any required special invoicing arrangements must be agreed before discharge with the person in charge of invoicing at the hospital.

Information on terms of payment

 

The Equine Hospital is equipped with intensive care facilities for those patients requiring it. The hospital has expert staff with strong expertise in the treatment of severely ill patients who are on duty 24/7. The intensive care of a full-grown horse can never be as intensive as that of people or even dogs, but the intensive care of foals in particular often achieves good results.

In addition to small foals, typical patients requiring intensive care are horses that have been operated on for horse colic, mares suffering from foaling complications as well as patients with diarrhoea or endotoxemia. Eye patients do not require actual intensive care, but due to frequent administration of medication and monitoring, it is often easiest to care for them at the hospital.

Intensive care patients often require continuous intravenous fluid treatment or repeatedly administered medication, such as antibiotics or eye medicine. When needed, horses may also be given extra oxygen in a stall. Some of the stalls are equipped with cameras allowing the surveillance of the horse. A foal in intensive care will be continuously monitored by one student or a nurse, who will monitor and help the foal according to an individually made plan and a veterinarian’s instructions.

When coming for physiotherapy for the first time, the patient will undergo a physiotherapy examination. The aim of the examination is to map any physiotherapeutic problems.

For example, if the diagnosis is back pain, possible physiotherapeutic problems may include:

  • Pain in back muscles
  • Atrophied back muscles
  • Inactive abdominal muscles
  • Limited mobility
  • Wrong size of saddle

After identifying the problems, short- and long-term goals will be agreed with the owner. The short-term goals can, for example, include managing the pain in the back muscles, improving mobility and increasing muscle mass, activating abdominal muscles, and purchasing suitable equipment.

Long-term goals may include the horse’s return to a top athletic level and the prevention of the recurrence of back pains. A rehabilitation plan will be drawn up to attain these goals which includes a timetable and the forms of therapy chosen to be used.

Note-taking and careful patient documentation are an important part of each patient’s therapy. In conjunction with the treatment, the effectiveness and success of physiotherapy will be continuously assessed and reported to the veterinarian in charge of treatment. We also cooperate with our colleagues working in the field as well as other professional groups.

Cooperation with a veterinarian is of essential importance in successful equine physiotherapy. For example, lameness or back pain patients are often booked appointments simultaneously with both a veterinarian and a physiotherapist for examination and treatment.

Inpatients

Physiotherapeutic rehabilitation might be needed when a horse is admitted as an inpatient. In these cases, a hospital physiotherapist will provide physiotherapeutic treatment to the horse up to several times a day. The physiotherapist will keep in touch with the owner by phone, register reports and instructions in the patient records, and provide advice in possible shared therapy sessions.

Day rehabilitator

If the horse’s condition requires intensive rehabilitation or the owner’s schedule is demanding, the horse can be brought to the hospital in the morning and picked up in the evening. In these cases, the horse will be given a day stall, and the physiotherapist may provide a required amount of physiotherapy during the day. The horse may also stay at the hospital several days for rehabilitation and physiotherapy.

Outpatients

You may book an appointment at our clinic either with a referral or directly regardless of your home location or the location of the referring veterinarian. During a clinic visit, the owner should always be present during treatment unless otherwise decided with the owner for personal reasons. You should reserve one to two hours for the clinic appointment.

Laboratory services are provided by the central laboratory of the Department of Equine and Small Animal Medicine located in Viikki. During on-call hours and in emergencies, the hospital’s own laboratory may perform laboratory examinations required for the immediate start of treatment. More information about laboratory services

Horses typically get infected by a cut close to the joint or a trauma reaching the tendon sheath, for example, a kick with a calked horseshoe. Sometimes a joint infection may be caused by prior veterinary medicinal procedures such as joint injection or surgery. Bacteria circulating in the bloodstream may also cause a joint infection, especially in newborn or young foals.

Treatment methods

Joint flushing, or lavage, is a primary treatment for joint infections performed either with arthroscopy or needles. Joint flushing is most often and most effectively performed under anaesthesia. The extent of the flushing need depends on the horse’s response to treatment; in most cases the infection is healed with one to three lavages. Arthroscopic joint surgery is used and recommended for a better flushing impact and for assessing the condition of the joint, and also when the patient has not responded to needle flushing. The aim is to take samples of the infected part for a bacteria culture to determine the bacteria’s sensitivity to antibiotics, but it is not always possible to determine this from the bacteria culture.

Prognosis

The prognosis for joint and tendon sheath infections is always conditional and depends on how quickly the horse comes in for treatment after the trauma. The prognosis also depends on the bacteria causing the infection as well as the nature of the trauma. If a joint is already infected, it does not necessarily require flushing during the night, and it can be flushed arthroscopically during the day. In some cases, treatment begun in time does not help, and the infection leads to joint destruction and osteoarthritis. The treatment costs related to a joint infection are on average €2,000 to €4,000 depending on the number of lavages and medication used.

Risks

Horseshoes are removed from the horse before anaesthesia so that it will not hurt itself when awakening. Administering anaesthesia to horses continues to be more problematic than, for example, small animals. Anaesthesia includes a risk for muscle damage, bone fractures and respiratory reactions. The Veterinary Teaching Hospital aims to minimise the risks related to anaesthesia, and they are smaller in otherwise healthy horses, but they cannot be removed entirely.

An equine blood bank operates at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, for which new donors are constantly needed. Blood is needed year round for seriously ill horses and ponies. Plasma prepared from blood especially benefits foals that suffer from postnatal antibody deficiency. Plasma can also be utilised in the case of certain serious illnesses, such as in the treatment following colic surgery. Plasma is needed in blood poisoning cases, for protein and coagulation factor deficiencies as well as in hepatic and renal diseases. Plasma is primarily collected for the treatment of hospitalised patients. Registration is completed through the booking services of the Equine Hospital.

Will my horse be a heroic blood donor?

For safety reasons, donor horses must be

  • Healthy
  • Between 2 and 16 years of age
  • Over 300 kg in weight
  • Never have been pregnant
  • Vaccinated and eradicated of parasites at regular intervals
  • Not recipients of blood transfusions or plasma
  • Not diagnosed with blood diseases (e.g., piroplasmosis)
  • Residents of Finland for the past 24 months

We need as donors horses of different breeds, since blood types are the closest to each other among horses of the same breed. In particular, we are looking for Finnhorse and Standardbred trotters as donors.

At the donation appointment, the health of the horse is first examined, after which a small area around the jugular vein is shaved to be able to collect the blood in a clean manner. A small sample of blood is collected, and the results are disclosed to the owner. The horse will be sedated for the duration of the procedure, which lasts roughly an hour. For a few days after the donation, the heroic donor must be allowed only light exercise.

The procedure can be handily carried out also in conjunction with another procedure, such as a lameness examination, shoeing or pre-purchase examination. In such cases, the administrative fee is waived.

Heroic donors are offered a health examination and, as a pick-me-up, Nutrisal electrolyte drink powder by Orion Pharma Animal Health. In addition to feeling content, owners gain information on the current health status of their horse.