How to collect a saliva sample


The EquiSal saliva collection swab, which is a registered design, has been specially designed for collecting horse saliva. The absorbent end collects about 0.5 ml of saliva and when this amount has been collected, a volume indicator in the swab turns pink.

Horses must not eat, drink or be exercised for at least 30 minutes before collecting the sample for EquiSal testing. This part of the sample procedure is essential to obtain reliable results. We recommend tying the horse up in a position where they cannot reach any food (including small morsels of hay etc on the ground or salt licks). This could be a good opportunity to have a grooming session for example. If your horse is at grass, there is no need for a stable, simply tie them up at the gate or similar.


How_to_collect_a_saliva_sample_pic_2Using the saliva swab provided in the EquiSal kit, collect a sample from your horse by inserting the swab through the interdental space (the space between the front and back teeth). Position it on the tongue and allow the horse to move its tongue up and down under the swab.







After 30 seconds, remove the swab and inspect the volume indicator for colour change to bright pink. If the indicator has not completely changed colour, return the swab in the mouth and continue sampling and checking the indicator until it has changed colour. If your horse’s mouth is dry then sample collection may take several minutes.



Once the indicator has turned pink, place the swab in the tube provided which contains preservative solution. This solution keeps saliva samples stable for at least 3 weeks at room temperature. Then simply add the provided barcode label, write the horses name on the tube and send the sample back to the EquiSal lab in the freepost envelope.

Results will be emailed out to you on the same day as testing.

Most of our customers have been very surprised how easy it is to collect saliva from their horse, including horses that are very difficult to deworm!




Frequently asked questions:

My horse has eaten a small amount of food/hay/grass within the half hour before the saliva collection will this be OK? No, it is critical that the horse must have eaten nothing at all. The test will not work if the horse is producing too much saliva and will result in a retest being required.

My horse is having dental treatment soon, can I collect a sample at the same time? No, if there is any presence of blood in the sample as a result of routine dental treatment, then this will affect the results.

I have finished collecting saliva and the swab is covered with food bits/hay, does this matter? It is perfectly OK for the swab to have food debris on it, you may want to pick off any large bits. The presence of food/grass/hay does not affect the test results.

I have dropped the swab on the floor what should I do? Providing the swab is not dirty, you can continue your saliva collection, but please inform us of the incident on the delivery note. However you must not wash the swab.

I have spilt the preservative solution from the saliva swab storage tube, what should I do? This is not ideal, but if you send the saliva swab back in the saliva swab storage tube we will attempt to carry out the test. Do not add anything else to the saliva swab storage tube as this will result in unreliable diagnosis.

I have collected my horse’s saliva but I cannot post it immediately, what should I do? We recommend that you place the saliva swab (in its storage tube) in a cool place until you are able to post it to us.

The instructions say I need to put a barcode label on the saliva swab storage tube, why do I need to do this? The barcode label is specific to each saliva sample and is used to track your horse’s saliva sample through the testing process. It is important to make sure the label is placed on with no wrinkles and not dirty. Remember to write the name of your horse on the saliva swab storage tube label.

The volume indicator is not changing colour? Ensure that you are using the swab correctly by placing the foam, soft end in the horse’s mouth while holding on to the plastic handle.

The swab does not fit in the tube. Don’t force the swab into the tube, make sure the foamy, soft end is placed into the preservative solution first. The swab should fit easily into the tube in this way.

A rook has flown off with my swab what should I do? This has actually happened! Keep all shiny objects out of sight of rooks!