Phone: (336) 223-8644

Fax: (336) 554-7339

Emergency Pager: (336) 205-0363

Iron Will

Mobile Veterinary Services


Education | Emergencies

At Iron Will Mobile Veterinary Services we believe that prompt and reliable 24/7 emergency service is essential to the health and well-being of our patients and the peace of mind of every owner.


Emergency service means putting our patients and their owners ahead of our own interests and families sometimes.  Emergencies generally happen when we least expect or when we are ill-prepared for them.


The fees charged for emergency service are at best a symbolic attempt to partially recover some of the associated costs of emergency calls.  These fees are not punitive nor do they remotely begin to compensate for the countless hours of simply being prepared emergency calls should they arise.


Sometimes, knowing when to call makes all the difference in the outcome of an emergency situation.  Be sure to have emergency contact information readily available and in plain view because nothing is worse than trying to locate a phone number when your animal is need of medical attention.


When to seek medical attention for your animals:

   • Animal down/recumbent and unable to rise

   • Lacerations (that are severe and/or near joints)

   • Injury to the eye(s) or eyelid(s)

   • Acute lameness

   • Breathing difficulty

   • Suspected choking

   • Unusual/aggressive behavior

   • Pregnant mares in labor for more than 20 minutes with no progress


Colic is not a disease – rather it is an indication of a painful problem in the horse’s abdomen.  There are numerous conditions that can cause a horse to show signs of colic.  The majority are related to the digestive system, most often the stomach or intestines.


Horses exhibit signs that indicate abdominal pain in a number of ways.  Some subtle signs, such as curling the upper lip, are often easily overlooked.  Other signs are almost impossible to mistake, such as violent thrashing or repeatedly rolling. Some of the more common signs of colic include:

   • Turning head to/looking at flank region

   • Pawing

   • Kicking or biting at the abdomen

   • Stretching out as if to urinate, without actually doing so

   • Repeatedly lying down and getting up, or attempting to do so

   • Repeated rolling, often with grunting sounds

   • Sitting in a dog-like position, or lying on the back

   • Leaving food or being completely disinterested in food

   • Lack of bowel movements or fewer bowel movements than normal

   • Reduced or absent digestive (gut) sounds

   • Rapid breathing and/or flared nostrils

   • Depression

   • Lip curling unrelated to sexual interest


The key to minimizing the incidence of colic is good management.  The key to minimizing the impact of colic is being able to identify the problem early enough and get prompt attention for your horse.  Treat every colic episode as a potentially serious one and never jeopardize your horse’s health for the sake of a few dollars.



Horses seems to be able to find new and innovative ways to injury themselves all the time and in our practice, lacerations are about as common as an episode of colic.  Some lacerations are very mild and superficial and need no further care than just a gentle cleansing and close monitoring of the area.  Other wounds, while perhaps not appearing to be very significant, can actually be life-altering or even life-threatening.  Any wound that appears to be more than just superficial should be examined more closely to ascertain exactly how much damage has been done and what tendons or joints are involved.  As time increases since the injury, our chances of complications also increases, especially if a joint is involved.  Untreated joint infections can lead to life-long complications for the horse, that can potentially result in death.


If you aren't certain whether or not the injury is serious enough to warrant examination and treatment, just give us a call or send us a picture of the wound so we can discuss potential therapies and outcomes.  At the end of the day, the old adage of "it's better to be safe than sorry" is a good one to remember.



Choke is the most common clinical problem affecting the esophagus of a horse.  It can occur as a single, acute episode or as a chronic, intermittent problem.  In either case, these situations are emergencies.


Choke results from the obstruction of the esophageal lumen with food, wood chips, or bedding.  Often it occurs in horses with ravenous eating habits, especially older horses being fed pelleted feeds.   The most common clinical signs include:

   • Excessive salivation

   • Retching

   • Coughing with saliva and/or food dripping from nostrils


Choking isn't always life-threatening but does constitute an emergency as it can lead chronic issues, such as esophageal dysfunction and pneumonia, and can eventually be fatal if esophageal rupture occurs.


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