How To Tell If A Horse Is Colicing?

Signs of colic in your horse

  1. Frequently looking at their side.
  2. Biting or kicking their flank or belly.
  3. Lying down and/or rolling.
  4. Little or no passing of manure.
  5. Fecal balls smaller than usual.
  6. Passing dry or mucus (slime)-covered manure.
  7. Poor eating behavior, may not eat all their grain or hay.

What to do if your horse is colicking?

  • Specific signs of colic,and their severity
  • Pulse or heart rate (beats per minute)
  • Respiratory rate (breaths per minute)
  • Rectal temperature
  • Color of the gums (white,pale pink,dark pink,red,or bluish-purple)
  • Moistness of the gums (moist,tacky,or dry)
  • Capillary refill time
  • Digestive sounds (if any)

What to do if you think your horse is Colicing?

Walk Your Horse – Walking can assist moving gas through the gut and can prevent injury from rolling. Most mild colics will even clear up from just a simple brisk walk. Try to walk the horse to keep them comfortable, but never to the point of exhaustion. Never aggressively exercise the horse.

How do horses act when they have colic?

Remember colic is literally pain in their abdomen. Some horses will stare at their sides, keep looking back to one or both sides, or even bite at their sides if the pain is severe enough. Some horses will take biting at their sides and flank watching a step further and kick up at their belly.

Can colic in horses go away on its own?

Prompt attention and treatment are essential. A colic might be mild and pass on its own, but some colics are a symptom of a more serious problem that will need veterinary care. Here is how you can tackle most cases of colic.

Can a horse poop while Colicing?

Colicing horses can poop, but lack of poop can be a symptom of colic. I know, this sounds very confusing. The reason some colicing horses poop is because not all colics result in a blockage of the intestines. There are many different types of colic in horses.

How do you treat colic in horses naturally?

Colic and helpful herbs for horses

  1. Dandelion. Dandelions are a great source of calcium, iron, potassium, and beta carotene.
  2. Valerian Root. Valerian root, which is known as a sedative for humans, can also be used in horses to relieve nervous tension.
  3. Chamomile.
  4. Meadowsweet.
  5. Peppermint.

What does horse colic look like?

Signs of colic in your horse Frequently looking at their side. Biting or kicking their flank or belly. Lying down and/or rolling. Little or no passing of manure.

Will a horse pee if they are Colicing?

In fact, it is more commonly a sign of abdominal pain (colic) in geldings and stallions. Male horses in abdominal pain often stretch, posture to urinate and dribble small amounts of urine. As expected, this behavior can also be a sign of conditions affecting the urinary tract and other body systems.

Can horses get colic from grass?

In acute grass sickness, the symptoms are severe, appear suddenly and the horse will die or require to be put down within two days of the onset. Severe gut paralysis leads to signs of colic including rolling, pawing at the ground and looking at the flanks, difficulty in swallowing and drooling of saliva.

When should I call the vet for colic?

If there are any signs of greater pain or if discomfort persists after an hour or two, call your veterinarian. If signs take a turn for the worse or seem to improve but then return, call your veterinarian. Walking your horse can encourage gastrointestinal motility.

Will Colicing horses eat?

No matter what the cause, many of the signs that horse owners will see are the same. Some of the common behaviors exhibited by colicky horses include but are not limited to: not eating, lying down, rolling, pawing at the ground, or looking back at the abdomen. Most horses love to eat. If there is food they will eat.

Can colic horse have water?

Horses that colic usually have a reduced water intake that may last several days. Warm, clean water should be provided for your horse – if the horse does not drink, try providing a bucket of electrolyte water in addition to the bucket of fresh water.

The Clinical Signs of Equine Colic – The Horse

Despite the fact that these indications are essentially common, individual horses may present slightly different signals and varying intensities in response to the same causes of colic as another horse. For example, a colicky colt would frequently roll onto its back with its feet raised in the air to relieve itself. Horses that are older and/or of a particular breed may exhibit greater stoicism than others. Such horses may endure stomach discomfort, but show no outward evidence of it other than despondency or a reluctance to move as a result of it.

Individuals with this type of training may be able to detect early or subtle behavioral changes that might suggest a problem.

It is critical to communicate these changes to your veterinarian, who does not have the luxury of witnessing these changes on a daily basis in your horse.

This information can be used by your veterinarian to assist him in evaluating your horse.

Because of this, these symptoms may not always indicate that your horse is suffering from colic.

Given that these indications might signal problems in locations other than the digestive system, this is the proper approach.

Very modest stomach discomfort may only be noticeable in the context of the behavioral changes described above.

  • Using a forelimb to paw at the ground
  • Stretching out
  • Reaching around with the head to the flank
  • And other actions Increasing the amount of time spent laying down Having a bad appetite
  • Having a good time in the water bucket
  • Continual transfer of weight onto the hind limbs, as well as standing against a wall and moving only seldom

As long as abdominal discomfort persists or if the ailment produces more than mild stomach cramps, the signs and symptoms of severe (strong) stomach cramps may become visible.

The following activities are included among the warning signs:

  • Constant activity (even while in the stall)
  • Pawing at the ground with a forelimb on a regular basis
  • Repeatedly lying down and then getting back up
  • Rolling over after laying down
  • Grunting
  • Kicking at the stomach
  • And tilting the head frequently to the flank

In addition to the indications and behaviors listed below, acute abdominal discomfort may present itself in the following ways:

  • The following symptoms: profuse perspiration
  • Continuous rolling
  • Persistent movement
  • And, aggressively getting up and down

These are simply broad recommendations for determining the degree of pain, and they should not be relied upon. It’s possible that individual horses will exhibit various signs of discomfort in addition to those listed above. Furthermore, the indications of colic that each horse exhibits do not cleanly split into the three categories of discomfort described above. It is possible that numerous indicators from any of the preceding categories will be present in a colicky horse, or that there could be none at all if the animal is extremely stoic.

  • As blood flow to the gut diminishes, depression is usually assumed to occur, resulting in segmental death of intestinal tissue, endotoxemia and other signs of poor blood perfusion of the body tissues that can be related with inadequate oxygen supply to those same tissues.
  • Pre-existing intestinal diseases such as anterior enteritis, colitis, and peritonitis may be more likely to produce depression than stomach discomfort without necessarily resulting in the death of the intestine.
  • The result is that a section of intestine that has been strangulated, leading to a loss of blood supply and intestinal death, generates greater agony than an impaction that has caused intestinal blockage.
  • Whenever severe abdominal discomfort that has been obvious for a long time is relieved and comfort is provided, the astute veterinarian would typically evaluate the potential of a rupture of a bloated section of intestine as the cause (stomach or intestinal rupture).

Colic 101: Signs, Types, What to Do and How to Prevent

In this essay, we will discuss the following topics:

  • What exactly is colic? Signs and symptoms of equine colic The best thing to do if your horse is colicking is to keep it calm. There are several different types of colic. The most common causes of colic are as follows: Colic prevention is important.

What is colic?

In this context, the term “colic” merely refers to stomach pain. Abdominal and intestinal disorders range from simple gas in the intestines to serious torsion of or twisting of the intestines, and are covered under this umbrella term. In addition, stomach ulcers, uterine discomfort in pregnant or post-foaling mares, and pain linked with illness in the organs of the abdomen might also be included in this category. Recognizing the early indications of colic in a horse is crucial for horse owners because the sooner the horse is recognized and treated, the better his prospects of recovery are.

When a horse is lucky, the colic will be a light one that will resolve on its own or with just modest intervention from a veterinarian.

It is possible, however, that the earliest clinical indications are indicative of an early stage of a potentially life-threatening colic that would later need significant therapy or surgery. Unfortunately, no one can know at the start of the process.

Colic in Horses

Colic in horses continues to be a leading source of illness and mortality in the industry. Approximately 10% of all horses will experience at least one attack of colic during their lives, according to statistics. Additionally, somewhat more than 6% of those horses die, which is nearly twice as many horses as are impacted by other illnesses or injuries combined.

Signs of Equine Colic

In every horse, colic manifests itself in a unique way, and the severity of the symptoms varies as well. All of these indicators are not exclusive to any one form of colic, and no colicky horse is likely to exhibit all of them at the same time. Understand how your horse regularly behaves in order to spot anything out of the ordinary. The following are the most prevalent indicators of colic:

  • Horses with colic appear with a variety of symptoms, each with a varying intensity of symptoms. No one form of colic is associated with any or all of these indications, and no colicky horse is likely to exhibit all of them at the same time. Understand how your horse regularly behaves so that you can spot anything out of the ordinary when it happens. There are several indications and symptoms of colic.

Colic manifests itself in a unique way in each horse, and the severity of the symptoms varies as well. These indicators are not exclusive to any one form of colic, and no colicky horse is likely to exhibit them all at the same time. Know how your horse regularly behaves in order to spot anything out of the ordinary. The following are the most prevalent symptoms of colic:

What to Do If Your Horse is Colicking

Please keep in mind that all colic cases should be treated as emergencies, and a veterinarian should be consulted immediately. Please provide the veterinarian with as much information as you are able over the phone. This should include the following items:

  • Clinical symptoms (pawing, sweating, rolling, and so forth) are present. The temperature of the horse’s rectal cavity (normally between 98 and 101.2 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Horse’s heart rate (normal is 30 to 40 beats per minute)
  • The color of the horse’s gums (usually pink, but they may be blue if the horse is in shock or dark red if the horse is poisoned)

Take the vital signs of a horse with the help of this tutorial.

Can a horse eat while it is colicking?

While you are waiting for the veterinarian, do not allow the horse to consume any hay or grain. In severe colic, the horse will refuse to feed; but, in moderate colic or during moments of low pain, the horse may make an attempt to consume something to relieve the discomfort. Although an interest in feed is a positive indicator, it has the potential to make colic more severe or to interact with oral medications. If nibbling on a little patch of green grass appears to be beneficial, that is OK; nevertheless, do not provide access to hay or grain.

If the horse decides to lie down, it will be much easier to control him as a result.

Should you walk a horse with colic?

Walking a horse for an extended period of time might actually wear him out, so only walk your horse when it is absolutely necessary to distract him from his suffering. Walking has sparked considerable disagreement as to whether or not it might promote gastrointestinal motility. A horse suffering from gas colic may occasionally benefit from trotting or going for a trail ride, since these activities appear to help move the gas along. Walking, on the other hand, does not appear to enhance digestive motility or rectify a twist in the intestine.

Many commonly prescribed sedatives and pain relievers have been shown to impair intestinal motility and may even make colic worse. Others have an effect on the horse’s heart rate or blood pressure, putting the animal at danger of shock.

Should you let a horse with colic roll?

Colicky horses are known to roll and twist their intestines, which is commonly believed to be the case. That is true in horses suffering from severe colic, in which the intestines are full with fluid and have become devitalized. The great majority of horses, on the other hand, will not have their intestines twisted by rolling. In most cases, the horse is standing when the twisting and displacement take place, and rolling is an attempt to become more comfortable. What’s really wrong with horses who roll, especially awkwardly, is that they are quite liable to damage themselves or their handlers, as well as expending enormous amounts of energy in the process.

Should you let a horse with colic lay down?

Always keep in mind that when a horse is in discomfort, he will lie down and seek to roll to reach a more comfortable posture. If the horse lies down and remains down peacefully, even if he is in an odd posture, you should let him alone and not interfere with him. Leave him alone if he wants to get up and change positions on a regular basis, then lie down and repeat the process. If he is continuously getting up and down and attempting to roll over, you should stroll him about.

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Pay Attention to Manure

Record any odd characteristics, such as the color or content of the horse’s feces or the frequency with which the animal defecates or urinates, when the horse is colicking. Also note whether the abdominal girth has altered throughout the colic episode, particularly if it is expanded. Be sure to record the frequency and intensity of the painful episodes, as well as if they are ongoing or progressively worsening. All of this information will be used to assist the veterinarian in determining the source of the colic in the animal.

Types of Horse Colic

Colic can be classified into three categories:

  1. Colic caused by gas
  2. Lesions that are obstructive
  3. Obstacles to the performance of a function

Common Causes of Colic

  • A stumbling block or an impediment
  • Torsion or twisting of the body causes a disruption in the blood flow. Due to gas accumulation in the gastrointestinal tract, there is distension. Inflammation of the colonic mucosa
  • Infection with a parasite
  • Lack of dental care and/or incorrectly chewed meals are among the causes of tooth decay. Restriction of movement or confinement of space
  • Hay of poor grade
  • Water consumption that is insufficient
  • Poor management techniques
  • Inconsistent feeding timings or quantities

Colic Prevention

Although not every instance of colic is preventable, appropriate treatment strategies can help to reduce the incidence of colic.


  • Establish and adhere to a regular regimen, including feeding and exercise plans
  • Feed a high-quality diet consisting primarily of free-choice roughage. Feeding excessive grain and energy-dense supplements should be avoided. Avoid placing feed on the ground, especially in sandy soils
  • Considering that horses were created by nature to consume numerous short meals throughout the day, divide the daily diet into two or three feedings. Make incremental modifications to your diet and other management practices

Exercise and Competition

  • Make sure to get some exercise every day. Gradually increase or decrease the intensity or length of a workout regimen
  • Stress should be reduced. Horses that are subjected to sudden changes in environment or workload are at a greater risk of developing intestinal dysfunction. When transferring animals or altering their environment, such as during shows, take extra precautions to ensure their safety.

Management and Health Care

  • With the assistance of your veterinarian, maintain a regular deworming regimen. Avoid drugs unless they are recommended by your vet
  • Check for potentially toxic substances in hay, bedding, pasture, and the surrounding environment, such as blister beetles, noxious weeds, plastics, and so on. Make sure there is enough of fresh, clean water. Exception: if a horse becomes excessively hot, give him small sips of lukewarm water until he has returned to normal body temperature. Observe foaling mares pre- and post-partum for any indications of colic. Watch any horses that have had a previous bout with colic. They may be at increased risk
  • Maintain complete and accurate records of management, feeding habits, and health conditions

When to R.E.A.C.T.: Signs of colic in horses-dvm360

Issuance 6A of Volume 50 of Dvm360 (July 2019) is available online. British-developed acronym you may use to educate your equestrian clients about indicators of colic in a horse. Education like this could lead a better-informed, faster-responding and quicker-calling clientele. Not all horses suffering from colic display the classic signs of the disease (pawing the ground, kicking at the belly, and rolling), but rather more subtle signs that are frequently misinterpreted as being caused by another problem.

In partnership with the British Horse Society and a group she runs called the Nottingham Equine Colic Society, Dr.

Restless or agitated

  • Attempts to get comfortable
  • Rolling over and over
  • Sweating without a reason
  • Walking around in a box or circling around

Eating less or droppings reduced

  • Eat less or nothing at all
  • Having fewer or no droppings to pass
  • Changes in the consistency of droppings

Abdominal pain

  • Increased heart rate
  • Reduced or absent gut sounds
  • Increased blood pressure Gingival changes in color
  • Rapid breathing rate
  • Skin abrasions over the eyes
  • And other symptoms.

Tired or lethargic

  • Increasing the amount of time spent lying down
  • Head position has been lowered. The mood is gloomy and dismal.

Dig deeper intothe British Horse Society’s website on the topic, and you’ll find:

  • “REACT Now to Beat Colic,”a free video for horse owners
  • s”REACT to Colic,”a lengthier version of the film
  • The following PDF handouts are available: “Recognizing the signs of colic,” “Emergency decision-making,” and “Waiting for the veterinarian to arrive. The following is a sample of the first page of one of the handouts that was distributed

With these information practically at their fingertips, horse owners have a greater opportunity than ever of catching colic and seeking treatment from you sooner rather than later.

Colic in Horses

The term “ACVS Diplomate” refers to a veterinarian who has received board certification in veterinary surgery from the American College of Veterinary Surgery. Only veterinarians who have successfully completed the certification requirements of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS) are entitled to use the title “specialist in veterinary surgery.” Diplomates of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (DACVS) are the only ones who have earned the right to use the title “specialist in veterinary surgery.” Your board-certified veterinary surgeon from the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS) completed a three-year residency program, met specified training and caseload criteria, conducted research, and had that study published.

This procedure was overseen by ACVS Diplomates, who ensured that the training was consistent and that the high standards were adhered to.

It was only after that that your veterinary surgeon was awarded the ACVS Diplomate designation.

Pain symptoms can range from moderate (looking at the flank, elevating the top lip, showing little interest in feeding, kicking the rear legs up towards the abdomen) to severe (kicking the hind legs up towards the belly) (repeatedly laying down and getting up, violently rolling up onto their backs or throwing themselves down on the ground).

Most horses with colic may be managed medically but some may require surgical intervention.

Symptoms and signs include: The clinical indications of colic are dependent on the source of the colic as well as the personality of the horse.

  • Anxiety, depression, and inappetence (not interested in food). Pawing at the flank
  • Looking at the flank Lie down for longer periods of time than usual or at a different time than usual (Figure 1)
  • The act of lying down, getting up, circling, and then laying down again and again
  • Using the upper lip to curl or lift
  • Kicking up with the hind legs at the abdomen
  • Rolling up onto the back
  • Etc. Figure 2 depicts a person stretching out. (Figure 3) Dog-sitting services
  • Groaning
  • sSweating
  • A faster than normal heart rate (the normal range is 28–44 beats per minute)
  • Abdominal distention that is visible (the appearance of being bloated)
  • Manure production is lower than normal or non-existent. Foals may roll up on their backs, grind their teeth, and salivate excessively if they are experiencing diarrhea.

Testing and evaluation: Your veterinarian will ask you a series of questions and do a physical examination on you.

  • Examples of questions include: recent travel, changes in feed or routine, medications, other episodes of colic, deworming/vaccination schedule, and other related topics. Physical examination may include: A veterinarian should be consulted immediately if the horse’s heart rate, respiratory rate, rectal temperature, abnormal color of mucous membranes (gums
  • Figure 4 shows gums that are too dark—this horse should be evaluated by a veterinarian immediately), skin turgor, digital pulses of the hooves, abdominal distention are observed.

Following that, depending on the results of the initial physical examination, your veterinarian may decide to perform some or all of the following procedures:

  • Routine procedures include: inserting a nasogastric tube to check for reflux (absorption of fluid in the stomach)
  • Rectal examination
  • Blood tests
  • And other procedures. Figure 5: Abdominocentesis is the procedure of taking a sample of the fluid that surrounds the intestines from the abdomen (abdominal centesis). The abdomen is examined using ultrasound technology. Gastroscopy is used to check for ulcers in the stomach. Radiographs to check for sand or enteroliths (this is only recommended in certain cases)

Treatment: Medical therapy often consists of the following procedures:

  • Intravenous analgesia (Banamine or sedation) is administered. Laxatives administered directly into the stomach via nasogastric tube (mineral oil or magnesium sulfate/Epsom salts)
  • Rehydration with oral or IV fluids is recommended.

The vast majority of horses suffering from colic will react to medical intervention. As long as the horse appears to be in discomfort, it is recommended that you have your veterinarian examine him again as away and consider referring the animal to a surgical institution. Surgical treatmentshould be considered if the horse remains uncomfortable demonstrating the above-mentioned signs of colic despite medical treatment or if there are specific indicators that were found by your veterinarian during medical workup that would indicate a surgical problem.

  1. Many causes of surgical colic can be corrected; however, there are certain causes of colic that despite the most aggressive surgical approach and treatment, survival is guarded.
  2. The success rates of surgical procedures have increased dramatically over the years, owing to early referral and timely surgical intervention.
  3. Feeding will be resumed gradually after the colic signs have subsided, in accordance with your veterinarian’s recommendations.
  4. Horses treated surgically would often require hospitalization for 5–7 days following surgery for continuing monitoring for postoperative problems, administration of antibiotics, analgesics, intravenous fluids and to carefully bring the horse back on feed assuring no more indications of colic.
  5. For the most part, horses will require at least 3 months of respite from riding, with an initial period of rigorous stall rest before returning to a gradual increase in turnout, followed by a gradual increase in exercise/training or riding under saddle.
  6. A positive prognosis, on the other hand, is given to horses who are treated medically or surgically, and who do not require the removal of any piece of the intestinal tract.

For further information on this subject, the American College of Veterinary Surgeons suggests that you speak with an ACVS board-certified veterinary surgeon or your general veterinarian. To find an ACVS Diplomate, visit.

Colic In Horses

The term “colic” simply denotes stomach ache. Colic can be caused by a variety of factors, and the symptoms can range from mild to severe.

What are the symptoms?

A horse suffering from colic will display a variety of symptoms, which will vary based on the source of the colic, how long it has been present, and how stoic the patient is. Light colic symptoms include dullness and curling up of the upper lip, as well as taking a “restraining to urinate” stance, as well as lying down quietly. In severe colic pain, a horse may roll and toss itself around in an uncontrolled and very hazardous way.

What causes colic?

Symptoms of colic can range from something as simple as an intestinal “spasm” caused by an alteration to one’s diet or routine (a digestive upset) to something more serious like intestine twisting, which results in the strangulation of the intestine’s blood supply (colon strangulation). In addition to impaction (where the intestine becomes clogged with semi-digested food material), other causes of obstruction include repositioning or displacement of a segment of bowel from its normal position, torsion or twisting, strangulation through hernias or holes, strangulation by fatty tumors wrapping around them, and other causes of obstruction.

How is colic treated?

Different types of colic require different treatments, so an accurate diagnosis is the first step. Simple large colon impactions usually respond to treatment by lubrication with oil, salt and water given by stomach tube. Many cases respond quickly to analgesics (pain killers) such as ‘Buscopan’ (a spasmolytic) and flunixin (Banamine) (Banamine). Some cases require urgent aggressive treatment – either medical or surgical, if the horse’s life is to be saved. There are some colic’s that can only be addressed by operating to correct the underlying condition.

What should I do if my horse has colic?

Call your veterinarian as soon as possible and describe the signs and symptoms. Persistent, intense pain is typically a sign of a major condition and the need for immediate medical attention. If at all possible, keep the horse walking; nevertheless, do not attempt to remove the horse from its stall if it is suffering from unmanageable discomfort. It’s important to remember that early diagnosis and treatment of colic are essential for success. It is preferable if the horse has recovered by the time the veterinarian comes rather of being at “death’s door” as a result of waiting too long to seek assistance.

How can a vet tell what is causing the colic?

In addition to straightforward clinical examinations of the horse’s behavior, attitude, temperature, pulse and respiratory rates, and mucous membrane color, veterinary investigations such as rectal examination, collection of blood and peritoneal (abdominal) fluid samples, ultrasound scanning, and passage of a stomach tube can all provide indications of the type and severity of the problem in the horse.

The actual cause of a problem is not always obvious, and in certain situations, surgery (exploratory laparotomy) is required to allow investigation of the abdominal cavity in order to locate the anomaly and to allow repair or therapy.

Any time medical or surgical care is required, the sooner the choice can be taken and the therapy is initiated, the more likely the horse’s chances of survival are to be increased.

Can I prevent my horse from getting colic?

To a certain extent – Yes. Deworming on a regular basis to avoid harm to the gut and its blood supply is quite beneficial. Maintaining a routine and avoiding drastic changes in management and feed type are also beneficial. Equine intestines, and in particular their intestines, are creatures of habit and routine. Changes should be implemented gradually and with caution. The use of straw as bedding for horses who are injured or needing a break from exercise is not recommended. Many will eat their bedding and their large intestines will become impacted with this.

They should have unrestricted access to drinking water as well as, if at all possible, some physical activity.

You must be on the lookout for any changes in the health of your horse or pony.

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Colic in Horses: Signs, Causes and Treatment

Dr. Jennifer Coates reviewed and updated this page on December 20, 2019 to ensure accuracy. DVMColic is a digestive system condition affecting horses that is rather prevalent. However, the term “colic” simply refers to “abdominal pain,” which can be caused by a variety of factors and treated in a variety of ways. The severity of colic might also vary substantially. If a horse experiences a mild bout of abdominal pain that is resolved with a single dose of medication, this is an example of what I mean.

When it comes to horses, any signs of colic should be taken seriously as an emergency situation.

Symptoms of Horse Colic

Despite the fact that there are many different types of equine colic, the majority of horses exhibit some combination of the following symptoms:

  • The following behaviors are common: anxiety or sadness
  • Pawing at the ground
  • Looking at their flank
  • Rolling or trying to lie down
  • Lack of or infrequent feces
  • And pacing. Appetite and water consumption are both low. Excessive perspiration
  • Atypically rapid heart rate (more than 50 beats per minute)
  • Lack of regular gastrointestinal sounds
  • Lack of normal gut sounds Stretching out as if to go to the bathroom

Causes of Colic in Horses

Because there are several causes of colic in horses, doctors will concentrate their efforts on attempting to categorize the kind of colic a horse is experiencing rather than finding a single cause. It is likely that a more specific diagnosis will be required in the event that the horse does not respond to initial treatment. Colic can be induced by a variety of factors, including:

  • Gas – An excessive buildup of gas causes the intestines to stretch, resulting in discomfort. Impaction or obstruction – Fecal material becomes hard and difficult to pass as a result of dehydration, the presence of high numbers of worms, the intake of sand, and other factors. Strangulation is a condition in which the intestines spin or become ensnared, preventing the passage of food and wastes as well as the flow of blood
  • Infarction is defined as a lack of blood flow to the gut, which results in tissue death. Peritonitis (inflammation of the abdominal cavity) can be caused by infectious diseases or other conditions, such as gastroenteritis or colitis (inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract). Ulcers are erosions of the lining of the gastrointestinal system that can cause discomfort and impair the function of the gastrointestinal tract.


You should become familiar with the signs and symptoms of colic so that you can recognize the condition quickly. Learn how to take your horse’s vital signs (temperature, heart rate, breathing rate, and mucous membrane color) so that you may pass along this crucial information to your veterinarian while they’re on their way to meet you and your horse. Purchase a stethoscope to keep in your emergency bag so that you can listen for signs of stomach distress.

Examine your horse on a regular basis when he is in good health so that you can spot problems more quickly when they arise. A range of diagnostic procedures will be performed by your veterinarian after they have arrived to confirm colic and further describe its etiology and severity.

Assessing the Cause and Severity of a Horse’s Colic

As part of a comprehensive physical examination, the veterinarian will first evaluate the horse’s pulse, temperature, respiration rate, mucous membrane color, and stomach sounds, among other things. Your veterinarian will ask you comprehensive questions about the horse’s recent behavior, food, exercise level, and other factors. The veterinarian may provide drugs to the horse in order to reduce discomfort and offer drowsiness. Additionally, it will make the animal more comfortable and make it safer to do additional diagnostics on the horse.

It is also possible to determine the volume and quality of feces present in the rectum.

In this procedure, a long, flexible plastic tube is passed through the horse’s nose and down the esophagus, ending up in the stomach.

On rare occasions, a veterinarian may conduct an abdominocentesis (belly tap) on a horse in order to collect and evaluate fluid that has collected in the abdominal cavity of the animal.

Treatment of Colic in Horses

Different types of treatment will be required depending on the type of colic that a horse is suffering from. Analgesics such as flunixin meglumine (Banamine), detomidine, or xylazine are used almost exclusively in the treatment of colic to assist manage the gastrointestinal discomfort, which can be extremely severe. Due to the fact that horses almost never vomit, a nasogastric tube may be used to alleviate pressure in the stomach and provide a route for gas and fluids to escape the stomach. If the horse is dehydrated or in shock, intravenous fluids may be necessary.

To assist in loosening and dislodging the impaction, mineral oil or another form of lubricant or laxative is typically used.

In some situations of colic, such as when the veterinarian feels that there is a twist in a loop of intestine, surgery may be necessary to relieve the pain.

The vast majority of colic cases can be resolved on the farm with medical assistance.

Regarding medications, feeding, and activity levels, adhere to your veterinarian’s recommendations. Following recovery, gradually return your horse to work while keeping a close eye out for any recurrence of abdominal pain symptoms.

Prevention of Colic in Horses

A horse will occasionally suffer from colic for no apparent reason. In such cases, the best prevention is to become familiar with your horse’s habits so that you can recognize when he is experiencing colic in the future. Preventative measures include the following, which you should consider implementing:

  • Check on your horse often to ensure that he has access to fresh, clean water. Horses are particularly prone to impaction colic during the cold months. They do not enjoy drinking ice cold water, and the water in the trough might be frozen, preventing the horse from having access to the water supply. If you live in a cold climate, make sure there is no ice buildup in your water buckets on a regular basis, or consider installing water heaters. Provide your horse with enough roughage in his diet, such as pasture or hay, to ensure that he remains healthy. This component of a horse’s normal diet offers the bulk necessary for optimal gastrointestinal motility. Feeding grain and/or pellets should be limited to the greatest extent possible. Make sure your horse receives regular dental examinations to ensure that he does not have any sharp edges or missing teeth that might hinder him from properly grinding his food. Consult your physician for the most effective method of controlling intestinal parasites. Slowly acclimatize your horse to rich pastures throughout the spring months. Do not allow him out to feed on fresh spring grass on a full-time basis all at once

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Horse colic prevention and management

When someone complains of stomach discomfort, they are referred to as having colic. This can suggest a problem with the intestines or with other organs within the abdomen. Numerous factors might contribute to this condition, from simple indigestion to an inflamed colon. A horse’s chance of acquiring it can be decreased but not eliminated by following basic management measures. Prevention is crucial, and by following simple management techniques, the danger of getting it can be reduced but not eliminated.

Signs of colic in horses

The following signs and symptoms may be displayed by a horse suffering from colic, in addition to the general changes in behavior:

  • The following signs and symptoms may appear in addition to typical changes in behavior in a horse suffering from colic:

Why is colic so common in horses?

It is believed that horses developed on a diet that differs from the one that is currently required of them. Horses’ eating habits, as well as the amount of time they spend eating, have evolved dramatically throughout the years — even a horse who lives on grass now consumes a diet that is much different from that of his forefathers. In the case of the domesticated horse, however, his intestines have not developed to accommodate these alterations, making him more prone to stomach discomfort. A horse’s digestion is characterized by fermentation, which produces gas as a by-product, which can easily distend the stomach and cause complications.

The horse’s stomach has a wide absorptive region (which is necessary because the animal is a herbivore), which makes it susceptible to poisons being absorbed fast.

This is referred to as “trickle feeding,” in which the horse consumes vast amounts of low-energy food throughout the day, generally spending 16 hours a day eating.

This is plainly diametrically opposed to the life that the horse was intended to lead.

Risk factors of colic

  • Dental difficulties, worm infestations, and gut injury (including past colic surgery) are all examples of digestive disorders. Poor feeding regime, including filthy food, insufficient quantity, a lack of fiber and/or water, or a rapid change in diet are all possibilities. Stress can be caused by a variety of factors, including strenuous exercise when unfit or after eating, travel, and a rapid change in habit or surroundings. The pasture is poor and overgrazed, especially if the soil is sandy

Colic prevention

  • The provision of a steady supply of fresh water
  • The administration of small and frequent feeds of concentrates, if necessary Hard feed should only be used as a supplement to the grazing and high-fiber meals that the horse has access to. Plan a diet with a high fiber content, incorporating hay or other high-fiber equivalent meals into the mix. The ratio should be at least 60% hay or similar. Ascertain that the feed is of high quality, is not moldy, and does not include any hidden risks like as baling rope or plastic. Establish a regular exercise routine for the horse, ensuring that it is physically fit for the task required. Do not suddenly place too much pressure on your horse. After your workout, take some time to cool down. Make any modifications to your workout or feeding schedule gradually
  • As much turnout as feasible should be provided in a paddock. Maintain frequent dental examinations since poorly chewed food raises the likelihood of an intestinal obstruction. Keep pastures from becoming overgrazed. Ration rich spring grass to the horse, treating it as though it were a change of diet
  • Avoid letting your horse graze in a severely sandy pasture if at all feasible. Ensure that the worm control regimen is kept up to date in accordance with your veterinarian’s recommendations. Maintain a consistent daily schedule and introduce adjustments gradually

Helpful hints

It is important to recognize your horse’s signals of excellent health so that you may diagnose colic as soon as possible and have a satisfactory outcome. Keep an eye on your body’s temperature, pulse rate, and respiration rate. If your horse has a history of colic, you should be extra cautious with him.

What to do if your horse has colic

In the event of a collapsed animal, it is necessary to call the veterinarian immediately.

If your horse exhibits any of the symptoms listed above (that are not typical), contact your veterinarian. If you are aware of your horse’s usual pulse, temperature, and breathing rate, you may alert the veterinarian if any of these parameters change.

  • Remove the horse’s grain and hay from the stable
  • Verify that the horse is in a secure environment that is free of risks
  • You should keep an eye on your horse even if he is acting nervous, rolling, or restless, as long as he is in a secure place, such as a big barn or corral
  • But, you should not intervene. If the symptoms are minor, walking slowly may be beneficial
  • Nevertheless, always follow your veterinarian’s instructions and avoid putting yourself or the horse in danger of damage.

Treatment of colic in horses

In the event of mild episodes of colic, the veterinarian may prescribe medications to reduce discomfort and calm the horse, which may allow the gut to begin functioning normally again. Keep track of your horse’s progress and notify your veterinarian if anything changes. When a horse’s condition becomes more serious and does not respond to early pharmacological therapy, your veterinarian may propose surgery, which would require transferring the horse to a nearby equine hospital. For horses that have a history of colic, it is especially important to pay close attention to every aspect of their routine and care.

While waiting for the vet

Maintain as much calm and quiet as possible for the horse, keep an eye on the signals, and do not offer the horse anything to eat or drink. Verify that the animal hasn’t been wormed recently and that nothing unusual has been consumed previous to the beginning of symptoms. Worms are responsible for a considerable proportion of colic cases, either directly or indirectly through their presence. Routine worming, as well as monitoring the effectiveness of the worming program, are critical components of excellent management.

Sensible management and attention for the horse’s requirements can assist to reduce this stress level and prevent related health concerns.

Horses with choke

Choke in horses can cause symptoms that are comparable to colic in humans. Choking occurs when an item (typically a piece of food) becomes lodged in the horse’s oesophagus and causes the horse to choke. Equine discomfort manifests itself in the form of a stiff neck and drooling saliva, as well as food and mucus from the nose and mouth. In severe cases, horses might die. Often, a choke will clear itself on its own, but you should consult a veterinarian for guidance. When symptoms first appear, keep an eye on the horse and, if the symptoms persist for more than half an hour, contact a veterinary surgeon for assistance.

Ensure that there is a proper amount of chaff provided to the feed as this will prevent the feed from bolting, which can result in choking.

Equine Colic: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention

The causes, symptoms, treatment, and prevention of equine colic are all covered in this article. My Horse University’s Online Equine Nutrition Course was used to create this version. Colic: What Causes It and What Symptoms It Has However, horse owners commonly refer to colic as difficulties with the gastro-intestinal system.

Colic is defined as any stomach pain, regardless of the source. However, while there are multiple causes of colic in horses, the majority of them are connected to the structure and microbiology of the horse’s gastrointestinal system. The following are some of the most prevalent causes of colic:

  • Diets based mostly on grains with little or no forage
  • Diet that is moldy or tainted
  • A sudden shift in feed
  • Parasite infestation Water consumption is insufficient, resulting in impaction colics. Ingestion of sand
  • NSAIDs are used over an extended period of time. Stress, dental difficulties, and other issues
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An impaction is an obstruction caused by anything the horse has consumed and passed through. NSAID is an abbreviation for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication. Figure 1 shows an example of a formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formal Strongyles, a kind of parasite, can be a prevalent cause of colic in infants.

It is critical to maintain a deworming regimen in order to keep parasites at bay in horses.

If a horse’s dental issues prevent him from chewing his food properly, he may suffer from colic.

The following are signs of colic:

  • Pawing, rolling, bloating, sweating, distress, uneasiness, loss of interest in food and drink, unusual postures (sitting, stretching), and vomiting are all possible symptoms. Absence of guttural noises

Figure 2: Photograph shows a horse rolling as a result of colic. It is possible that a colicky foal will not exhibit the normal indicators of colic. Instead, they may prefer to lie on their backs with their legs tucked in behind them. The owner or manager of a foal must be on the lookout for any aberrant behavior in the foal. Figure 3: This foal’s abdomen has become inflated as a result of gas. Dr. Judy Marteniuk of Michigan State University is the source for this information. Colic comes in a variety of forms.

  1. If the stomach ruptures, it might result in grave consequences for the patient.
  2. Because of its motility, the small intestine is more prone to becoming twisted.
  3. Additionally, both the small and large intestines can get displaced inside the abdominal cavity, resulting in discomfort as well as reduced blood supply to the area.
  4. Displacement colic necessitates the necessity for prompt surgical intervention.
  5. The mesentery connects the small intestine to the rest of the body.
  6. Impaction colic is characterized by the large intestine folding in on itself and undergoing many changes in direction (flexures) as well as variations in diameter.
  7. Impactions can be triggered by coarse feed material, dehydration, or the buildup of foreign material such as sand in the system.

Impaction colics are most usually seen in the cecum and the large intestine, respectively.

Gas may build up in the stomach and intestines, as well as the rest of the body.

Excessive gas can be created by bacteria in the intestines after a big amount of grain or moldy feed is consumed by a livestock animal.

Spasmodic colic is characterized by painful spasms of the smooth muscle of the intestines (spasmodic contractions).

Excessive excitation might result in spasmodic colic.

Horses suffering from enteritis may also experience diarrhea.

Treatment Identifying the source of colic is critical to providing the most effective therapy and allowing the problem to be rectified.

As a result, be important to have a veterinarian assess your horse as soon as possible after seeing any of these symptoms.

Many cases of colic can be adequately managed with medicine, but others, including severe impactions or twists, may necessitate prompt surgical intervention to relieve the pain. You should do the following while you are waiting for your veterinarian:

  • Keep an eye on your horse and keep track of his vital signs as well as the passage of any excrement. Take away the ability to access the feed. If there is a blockage, any feed intake will simply serve to exacerbate the situation. Allow as much rest as possible for the horse. A horse must be walked only when the horse is rolling and threatening himself or others
  • Otherwise, it is unnecessary. Do not provide any medicine unless specifically instructed to do so by the attending veterinarian. Pain medication may be used to disguise the symptoms of colic, making identification and treatment more difficult. Furthermore, if banamine is injected intramuscularly, it can result in a clostridial abscess that is potentially lethal. Banamine should always be delivered intravenously or orally
  • It should never be injected.

In addition to doing a rectal exam, the veterinarian will listen for gut sounds and check vital signs upon arrival. A nasogastric tube will also be passed. Medicines and the insertion of a nasogastric (stomach tube) to relieve gas and provide medications are effective treatments for most colic cases on a small farm. When a veterinarian detects a displacement or an impaction that cannot be adequately treated on site, she will refer you to an equine surgical hospital for further evaluation. Prevention Some of the preventative actions are self-explanatory once you’ve determined the source of the colic and have successfully treated it.

Other preventive actions include the following:

  • Feed your horse on a regular basis, especially on weekends
  • This includes hay. Make no unexpected modifications to the horse’s food
  • Instead, gradually introduce alterations. A reliable source of clean, fresh water should be accessible at all times. Maintain the cleanliness of feed boxes and hay racks, as well as the feedstuffs, to ensure they are free of mold and dust. Check your teeth on a regular basis for dental conditions that might cause chewing difficulties. Make sure you get enough exercise. A suitable amount of forage should be provided (at least 50% of the overall diet)
  • Prevent sand from getting into the feed by keeping it off the ground. Implement a parasite management program that is successful and meets the demands of your farm.

Figure 6. This horse is chewing hay on sandy terrain, which might result in the horse absorbing sand and then suffering from sand colic as a result. Sand colic is more prevalent in sandy regions of the United States (Image left) Bibliographical Citations and Additional Resources seXtension In this article from HorseQuest, we discuss the management and control of internal parasites in horseseXtension. HorseQuest article on the importance of nutrition in the treatment of horse colic and laminitis.

How To Spot Colic In Horses

Colic. Among people who work with horses, there is one word that inspires equal amounts of anxiety. Whatever your level of experience with horses, when you find that your horse is colicing, you will feel a pit in the pit of your stomach for a few minutes. Unfortunately, colic has no regard for race or gender. The most well-cared-for horse may go from appearing healthy to suffering from an acute episode of colic in the blink of an eye. In horses, colic is a phrase used to describe gastrointestinal pain that occurs in the stomach.

Because colic is the leading cause of death in horses, it is critical for anybody who is engaged in the daily care or riding of horses to be aware of the signs and symptoms associated with colic.

  • Excessive pawing at the ground with a front leg
  • Flank watching (moving head toward flank)
  • Stretching out as if to urinate
  • Change in mood (depressed or enthusiastic)
  • Kicking at the stomach
  • Lying down (may remain down for an extended period of time or may continually get up and go back down)
  • Thrashing or rolling about on the ground
  • The weight is constantly moving on the rear legs. They are leaning against a wall to keep their stomach supported. Curling of the lips
  • Profuse perspiration

You could also observe that the horse hasn’t gotten his hands on any of his hay or grain. Also inspect the horse’s stall for the presence of manure or the absence of manure. Whether there is manure in the stall, look at it to determine if it looks to be in good condition. Keep in mind that each horse will present somewhat different indicators that they are suffering from colic than the next. Although some people may tell you they are in discomfort immediately once, others may remain stoic no matter how severe the stomach pain they are feeling.

Colic comes in a variety of forms.

Idiopathic colic is caused by a virus.

Idiopathic refers to a condition in which no root cause has been identified.

However, if left untreated, colic can worsen to the point where it is potentially life threatening or even fatal.

Gas Colic, also known as spasmodic colic, is a kind of colic that happens when excess gas builds up in the horse’s digestive tract, causing pressure to build within the digestive tract.

Horses who suffer from gas colic usually recover completely after receiving only a little painkiller treatment regimen.

Because of this obstruction, it is difficult, if not impossible, to move manure.

Larger impactions, on the other hand, may necessitate surgical intervention.

Despite the fact that the exact origin of these colics is yet unknown, they are more easily diagnosed than idiopathic colics.

Once the blood supply has been cut off, necrotic tissue will form, necessitating the removal of that piece of the intestine by surgery.

The horse’s prognosis is contingent on how fast he is able to be taken to the veterinarian.

This occurs when the gut rolls back into itself and becomes blocked, resulting in intestinal perforation.

Surgery will be necessary to remove the necrotic tissue, just as it would be in the case of strangulation.

The veterinarian will use an ultrasound to try to determine whether or not there is inflammation in the bowel of the dog.

Historically, surgery was the preferred method of therapy; however, recent research has demonstrated that enteritis may be successfully managed with drug administration instead.

If you observe your horse exhibiting any of the probable colic indicators listed above, it’s critical to understand and monitor your horse’s vital signs immediately (heart rate, mucous membrane color, temperature, gut sounds).

This information will assist your veterinarian in making decisions regarding the treatment strategy for your pet’s condition.

This is one instance in which your veterinarian would not object to an unduly cautious or concerned owner contacting him or her for treatment suggestions or to seek a farm visit.

A horse’s chances of surviving a colic episode and returning to a healthy life are significantly improved the sooner your veterinarian can come to the farm and begin treating him or her.

Walking not only serves to divert the horse’s attention away from the discomfort, but it may also be beneficial in alleviating certain gas colics.

Depending on the severity of your symptoms and the time it will take for your veterinarian to arrive, they may recommend that you provide a non-steroid inflammatory medicine such as banamine.

However, do not provide medicine without first obtaining your veterinarian’s clearance, since this might potentially disguise symptoms when they arrive.

It does not matter if you have already checked them; the veterinarian will check the vital signs and listen for gastrointestinal noises.

Depending on your horse’s disposition, the veterinarian may opt to sedate your horse in order to undertake certain more intrusive diagnostic tests on your horse.

This enables the veterinarian to determine whether there is any intestinal distension, misplaced organs, or if the colon is twisted, among other things.

The veterinarian will examine the horse’s stomach to determine whether there is any reflux or gas buildup.

Following the completion of these tests, the veterinarian will be able to assess if your horse can be treated on the farm or whether he will need to be moved to a veterinary hospital for additional treatment.

If your veterinarian recommends that you take your horse to the hospital, be calm.

If at all feasible, put together an emergency plan in case the situation arises (either have a trailer available for transport or know who you can contact should you need to go to the hospital).

An injured horse may attempt to pass out while being transported to the hospital.

In the same way, avoid tying your horse’s head up in case he tries to fall off.

That does not necessarily imply that the problem is severe; it might just suggest that there are students who are interested in learning more about colic.

On arrival, the hospital staff will do the same diagnostic tests that were performed on the farm and formulate a strategy for how to continue, whether medically or surgically, with the patient.

Following the Colic Incident However, regardless of whether your horse’s colic was treated with medication or surgery, you must consult with your veterinarian about how to best care for your horse after it has been treated with medication.

Despite the fact that the horse has resumed eating, you will need to follow a structured rehabilitation plan in order to gradually return your horse to turnout and working conditions.

It is possible that you will need to reevaluate your feeding program with the assistance of your veterinarian.

Suggestions for Preventing Colic If your horse suffers from colic, don’t put the responsibility on yourself!

Although it cannot always be avoided, the following dos and don’ts can assist to lessen the likelihood of your horse experiencing colic: DO keep all feeds and grains in a secure location with locked doors.

Allowing horses to ingest rotten or moldy hay or grain is strictly prohibited.

Horses are creatures of habit, and even a slight disruption in their feeding schedule, even by an hour or two, may be enough to cause them to colic.

Due to the horse’s restricted capacity to digest starch in the small intestine, research has found a clear association between a higher intake of grain and a higher incidence of colic.

A good parasite management program can aid in the treatment of a variety of colic conditions caused by parasites.

Horses who are stabled 24 hours a day have a greater incidence of colic than horses that are sent out or exercised on a regular basis, according to scientific evidence.

Fortunately, if you take the necessary precautions, colic does not have to be a death sentence, even if your horse requires surgery. The most important factor in preventing colic is to act quickly.

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