General Information for Equine Emergencies

Northeast Pennsylvania Equine Clinic answers emergency calls 24 hours a day. In the event of a possible emergency, call our office first 570-727-2868. If there is no one to take your call, please leave your message, then hang up and dial Dr. Johnson's cell phone, 607-727-5405. You may also use the home phone, 570-727-4868 for emergencies at night, on weekends or as a back-up to the cell phone.

Please refer to the next section, First Aid Treatment Notes, for instructions on what to do for most equine emergencies.

Recognizing Signs of Distress

Learn how to take your horse's vital signs-temperature, pulse and respiration. (See Resources-Assessing Vital Signs for technique) Learn also how to do a physical assessment of your horse including observing position of the limbs, overall posture and posture of the abdomen, attitude, signs of pain, detecting any presence of swelling, lameness, abnormal temperature of the feet or abnormal appearance of the eyes, nose, gums, checking for normal hydration with gums wet with plenty of saliva and a normal neck skin pinch test, normal capillary refill time (the time for color to return to the gum after firm thumb pressure is released) of 1 to 2 seconds, and checking for normal gut sounds. Remember to check for normal amount, color and consistency of manure, urine production and for vaginal discharge. Know what normal behavior for your horse is. (Printable First-aid treatment notes)

If you would like coaching on doing a physical assessment of your horse, come to our Annual Open House at no charge or schedule an appointment at our clinic or at your place.

Be Prepared With a Plan

  • Keep your veterinarian's contact information by each phone, including how the practitioner can be reached after hours.
  • Consult with your veterinarian regarding back-up coverage.
  • Keep your phone line open for the veterinarian to call you back after notifying him/her of your emergency.
  • Know in advance the most direct route to Northeast Pennsylvania Equine Clinic and Cornell University Large Animal Clinic in case you need to transport the horse.
  • Post the names and phone numbers of nearby friends and neighbors who can assist you in an emergency while you wait for the veterinarian.
  • If you don't own a horse trailer to transport your horse during an emergency if needed, make sure you have a back-up plan in advance with someone who can transport your horse for you. Northeast Pennsylvania Equine Clinic maintains a listing of people who have a trailer available to rent or who are willing to provide trailering services for horses needing to be transported to our clinic or to a referral hospital such as the New York State College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell or to University of Pennsylvania New Bolton Center. NPEC provides you with transporter contacts as a courtesy only. NPEC is not responsible for inspecting transportation vehicles or for the safety of your horse en route. Please do your own evaluation of the trailering vehicle and the transporter.
  • Prepare a first aid kit (or purchase a NPEC first aid kit) and store it in a clean, dry, readily accessible place. Make sure that family members and other barn users know where the kit is kept.
  • Also keep a first aid kit in your horse trailer or towing vehicle and a pared-down version to carry on the trail ride.
  • Keep copies of your horse's medical, vaccination, deworming and allergy records in case of an emergency since these records may not be accessible "after hours."


Northeast Pennsylvania Equine Clinic, LLC.

4326 State Route 1001, Thompson, PA 18465
Office: 570.727.2868 Fax: 570.727.2935
Office Hours: M-Th 7:30am-4:30pm, F 8am-4:30pm, Sat by appointment

A+ Rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB)