Colic indicates a painful problem in your horse’s abdomen. Because colic is often unpredictable and frequently unpreventable, it’s a common concern for horse owners. Horses are naturally prone to colic. Fortunately, over 80 percent of colic types respond well to treatment on the farm.
What does it mean when a horse is colicking?
- What Does It Mean When A Horse Is Colicking? Colic in horses is defined as abdominal pain, but it is a clinical symptom rather than a diagnosis. The term colic can encompass all forms of gastrointestinal conditions which cause pain as well as other causes of abdominal pain not involving the gastrointestinal tract.
Can a horse survive colic?
Results. The overall survival rate for colic horses over the 10 -year study period was 68% (confidence intervals (CI): 66–71%; 1087/1588). In the medical group, 1093 horses, short-term survival was 87% (CI: 85–89%). Thirty one % of referred horses were given diagnoses requiring surgical intervention (CI: 29–33%).
What causes colic in a horse?
Gas colic – all colics are associated with some gas build up. Gas can accumulate in the stomach as well as the intestines. As gas builds up, the gut distends, causing abdominal pain. Excessive gas can be produced by bacteria in the gut after ingestion of large amounts of grain or moldy feeds.
Should you walk a horse with colic?
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.
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.
What’s good for horse colics?
Caring for the colicky horse
- Always have fresh, clean water.
- Allow pasture turnout.
- Avoid feeding hay on the ground in sandy areas.
- Feed grain and pelleted feeds only when you need to.
- Watch horses carefully for colic following changes in exercise, stabling, or diet.
- Float your horse’s teeth every six months.
How serious is colic in horses?
Colic is a potentially life-threatening disease. If a horse displays moderate or severe symptoms they will need urgent veterinary attention and possibly referral to us, if this is an option. If your horse displays mild symptoms of colic try walking them around (do not canter or trot) for no more than ten minutes.
Can too much hay cause colic?
A change in the type of hay may cause colic for many reasons. Hay of poor quality is often less digestible, predisposing to impaction. Changing types of hay as in alfalfa and bermuda, may be related to colonic pH changes resulting from calcium differences in the two hays.
How do you prevent colic in horses?
Feeding to Prevent Colic
- Feed your horse only what he needs.
- Stick with your feeding program.
- With grain, think small and often.
- Keep him moving.
- Get sand out of the ration.
- Remove manure from paddocks and fields.
- Use dewormers effectively.
- Don’t miss out!
Does beer help colic in horses?
No matter how much the vet call is, think about how heartbroken you will be if you wait too long and there is a big issue. While beer may help with colic in very limited conditions, your veterinarian will be able to advise the best course of action to get your equine partner feeling his best again!
How soon after colic can a horse be ridden?
When he has mild gas colics that are taken care of with just banamine, I give him 24 hours and then a light ride.
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.
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 colic on grass?
Grass colic is a type of spasmodic colic caused by gas buildup in the intestinal tract. It can occur when a horse ingests too much grass to which he is unaccustomed. A horse is at risk of colic whenever his diet suddenly changes, whether the change is to grass, grain or another unaccustomed feed.
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.
- 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
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.
- If the stomach ruptures, it might result in grave consequences for the patient.
- Because of its motility, the small intestine is more prone to becoming twisted.
- 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.
- Displacement colic necessitates the necessity for prompt surgical intervention.
- The mesentery connects the small intestine to the rest of the body.
- 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.
- 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.
Dealing With Equine Colic: Here are 33 Do’s and Don’ts – The Horse
Keep the feeding routine constant and introduce feed modifications gradually, as outlined in 22. In Keenan’s experience, “the most typical relationship with colic is a change in feed or hay mix within the previous two weeks.” When transitioning to a new food source, make the transition gradually over a period of at least 10 days. 23.Feed on a regular basis. Climate expert John Weatherly says that eating several little meals throughout the day is often better for the digestive tract than eating one or two large meals.
- DO NOT choose grain over forage as a food source.
- Horses who require grain include those that are underweight despite being fed high-quality hay on a 24-hour basis or those that have a particularly strenuous activity routine, according to the author.
- Warm water should be available in the winter and cool water should be available in the summer.
- It is possible to gradually increase the water until the horse would drink a whole bucket of water to reach a half-pound of grain, according to Keenan.
- 26.DO make time for frequent physical activity.
- This entails participation on a regular basis as well.
- 27.Maintain a parasite control regimen that has been authorized.
According to research, strategic parasite control is the most effective method; owners should consult with their veterinarians to develop a program based on fecal egg counts and pasture management.
DO take measures to decrease the amount of sand that is consumed.
If your horse has a tendency to rip his hay out of the container and eat it off the ground, consider putting mats around the container to prevent this.
For best results, Keenan recommends putting roughly two cups of manure in a gallon Ziploc bag and filling the bag halfway with water, then shaking it up until the manure is completely dissolved.
When you tap the bag, the sand will settle out at the lowest corner of the bag.
If you receive a negative result, repeat the test three or four more times over the course of three days to be sure.” 30.If your horse has a sand load, Keenan recommends that you administer psyllium products in accordance with your veterinarian’s instructions.
If your horse has colic in the past, you should consider changing your management style.
“An example might be a change in feed or shelter.” According to Keenan, 32.DO considergastric ulcer prevention measures for extremely stressed horses or performance horses, as directed by your veterinarian.
33.Consider purchasing significant medical insurance for your horse (as opposed to merely surgical insurance) to cover the price of sophisticated medical and surgical care.
Multiple smaller meals are often preferable than one or two large meals when it comes to the digestive tract. Dr. Amy Plummer Weatherly is a neurologist who specializes in pain management.
The Cost of Colic
There is little denying that colic surgery is a pricey procedure. According to the clinic, a basic, complication-free operation can cost roughly $5,000, but an extensive resection (removing part of the intestine), for example, can cost twice that much. Maintain an open line of communication with your veterinarian and maintain a realistic outlook in order to avoid wallowing in self-pity over the money you’re incurring. “What we do is motivated by a desire to save as many people as possible. Nevertheless, this does not imply that everything we do is within everyone’s financial means,” says Louise Southwood, BVSc, MS, PhD, Dipl.
It’s important to talk about prices with vets, even before you step inside the clinic.
” “If you can get the horse to the hospital but can’t afford to pay $10,000 if he suffers postoperative reflux and requires a second surgery, it’s fine to say so,” says the veterinarian.
The author, Ms.
What is colic? – Equine Hospital
Horses suffering from colic have abdominal (belly) pain, which is mainly caused by issues with the gastrointestinal tract. Colic is a phrase used to describe this ailment. It is estimated that there are about 70 distinct types of digestive issues that can induce colic symptoms, ranging from moderate to severe (and even life-threatening) in severity. While it’s true that colic is one of the most prevalent causes of death in horses, the outlook is much better now than it was in the past. Improved methods of diagnosing and treating colic, enhanced anaesthetic medicines and monitoring, and improved surgical procedures are all contributing to this progress.
What causes colic pain in horses?
Horses, like people, are relatively sensitive to anything that causes pain in the intestines, such as parasites. Intestinal spasms (cramp), the gut wall being stretched by gas or feed material, the blood supply to part of the gut being cut off, or the intestine being caught (entrapped) in an odd location are all possible causes. There are also non-intestinal illnesses, such as laminitis, bladder stones, and ovarian issues, that can present with symptoms that are similar to those of colic. This is referred to as ‘fake colic,’ although it can still be quite dangerous.
What are the symptoms of colic in horses?
Horses will generally exhibit any or all of the following characteristics:-
In mild cases:
- Lip curling, flank watching, restlessness, and pawing the ground are all signs of impending doom.
In moderate cases:
- Posing as if one has to urinate regularly
- Being able to lie down and get back up
- Lie down on their side for extended periods of time
In severe cases:-
- Violent rolling
- Rapid breathing
- Injuries to the body and face as a result of thrashing around and rolling around in circles
What should you do if you suspect colic?
Celiac disease is a potentially life-threatening condition. If a horse exhibits moderate or severe symptoms, he or she will require immediate veterinary attention and, if possible, referral to our facility for further treatment.
You should stroll your horse about (do not canter or trot) for no more than 10 minutes if your horse is showing minor symptoms of colic. If the symptoms linger for more than 30 minutes or become more severe in the wild, contact your veterinarian right once.
If you think your horse is showing signs of colic please contact your veterinary surgeon.
The term “colic” simply refers to belly discomfort. Colic can be caused by a variety of factors, and the symptoms can range from minor to severe.
What are the symptoms?
A horse suffering from colic will display a variety of symptoms, which will vary depending on the cause 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 food or routine (a digestive upset) to something more serious like intestine twisting, which results in the strangling 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?
Because different forms of colic necessitate different therapies, the first step is to get a correct diagnosis. Generally, simple big colon impactions respond well to therapy with lubrication consisting of oil, salt, and water administered through a stomach tube. Pain relievers such as ‘Buscopan,’ which is a spasmolytic, and flunixin (which is a muscle relaxant) are effective in many situations (Banamine). Depending on the situation, extensive treatment – either medicinal or surgical – may be required in order to preserve the horse’s life.
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?
Yes, to a certain extent this is true. 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 that are injured or needing a rest from exercise is not recommended. Many people will consume their bedding, which will have an affect on their big intestines as a result.
They should have unrestricted access to drinking water as well as, if at all feasible, some physical activity.
You must be on the lookout for any changes in the health of your horse or pony.
Colic in Horses: Signs, Causes and Treatment
Dr. Jennifer Coates reviewed and updated this page on December 20, 2019 to ensure correctness. DVMColic is a digestive system condition affecting horses that is rather prevalent. However, the term “colic” merely refers to “abdominal discomfort,” 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 moderate attack of belly pain that is treated with a single dosage of medicine, this is an illustration 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 may be required in the event that the horse does not react to first therapy. Colic can be induced by a variety of factors, including:
- Gas – An excessive buildup of gas causes the intestines to expand, 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 infections or other ailments, such as gastroenteritis or colitis (inflammation of the gastrointestinal system). 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 problem early. 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 see problems more quickly should 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 therapy 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 essential.
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 illnesses may be managed on the farm with medical assistance.
Regarding medicines, nutrition, and exercise levels, adhere to your veterinarian’s advice. Following healing, gradually return your horse to work while keeping a close eye out for any recurrence of belly discomfort symptoms.
Prevention of Colic in Horses
A horse will occasionally suffer from colic for no obvious cause. In such circumstances, the greatest protection is to become familiar with your horse’s behaviors 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 chilly region, ensure sure there is no ice formation 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 maximum degree practicable. 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
The image used for the header is from iStock.com/ejesposito.
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).
The majority of horses suffering from colic may be managed medically, but some may require surgical treatment.
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, rising up, circling, and then laying down again and again
- Using the top lip to curl or raise
- 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
- A faster than usual heart rate (the typical range is 28–44 beats per minute)
- Abdominal distention that is visible (the look of being swollen)
- Manure output is lower than usual 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 habit, medications, prior instances of colic, deworming/vaccination schedule, and other related topics. The following may be included in a physical examination: 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 first physical examination, your veterinarian may decide to do 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 instances)
Treatment: Medical therapy often consists of the following procedures:
- Intravenous analgesia (Banamine or sedative) is administered. A naogastric tube is used to inject laxative medications directly into the stomach. These include mineral oils and magnesia 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 treatment should be considered if the horse continues to be uncomfortable and exhibits the above-mentioned signs of colic despite medical treatment, or if your veterinarian discovers specific indicators during a medical workup that would indicate a surgical problem that needs to be addressed.
- Surgical colic can be caused by a variety of factors that can be remedied; nevertheless, there are some causes of colic that, even the most vigorous surgical approach and treatment, are not guaranteed to survive.
- The success rates of surgical procedures have increased considerably over the years, owing to early referral and timely surgical intervention.
- Feeding will be resumed gradually when the colic indications have subsided, in accordance with your veterinarian’s instructions.
- Hospitalization for 5–7 days is normal for horses who have had surgical colic treatment.
- Specific post-operative advice will vary depending on the surgical diagnosis, the postoperative healing process, the behavior of your horse, the stabling/turnout facilities, and a variety of other variables.
- The prognosis for a horse with colic varies widely depending on the origin of the colic, how systemically affected the horse was at the time of operation, and whether or not there were any postoperative problems.
This Animal Health Topic was produced by Diplomates of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons and evaluated by Diplomates of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons Any thoughts expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons, nor do they represent the official viewpoint of the organization.
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 locate an ACVS Diplomate, go to the website.
Colic In Horses: Types of Colic, Potential Causes, & Reducing Risk
When it comes to horses, colic is the most common medical cause of death. Although technically speaking, colic refers to pain in the horse’s belly, most colic episodes are caused by problems affecting the colon. The causes of colic can range from a simple obstruction to a spasm in the colon caused by gas accumulation, or torsions in the digestive tract. However, the vast majority of colic episodes are idiopathic, which means they have no recognized cause. In other words, in the vast majority of situations, we have no idea what is causing a horse to colic.
Some types of colic in horses include:
There has been no determination of the primary cause. Approximately 80% of all colic cases are caused by this. This includes the following:
Increased fluid or gas in the digestive system of a horse is generally produced by over-fermentation of food in the hindgut. This fluid or gas causes the horse to become dehydrated. The horse has discomfort as a result of the pressure and probable inflammation that develops along the gastrointestinal tract.
The collection of sand, mud, feed, or other indigestible material in a horse’s colon as a result of the horse’s inability to digest it. Because of the obstruction, it is difficult or impossible for a horse to properly dispose of its excrement.
The root cause has been identified. These are some examples:
In addition to being most commonly caused by tapeworms and other parasites, this is also a particularly hazardous kind of colic in which the intestine essentially slides like a telescope into a piece of its own body. It is also possible to cut off the blood flow, resulting in a blockage.
A gastric rupture can occur when an impaction enters the horse’s stomach or when gas build-up causes the horse’s stomach to inflate, both of which are very unusual occurrences.
Equine colic is one of the most deadly types of animal colic. A twist in a horse’s colon or small intestine that may also result in the horse’s blood supply being cut off, resulting in necrotic tissue.
Feeding and Management Can Induce Colic in Horses
The natural diet of a horse consists of grass, leaves, and bark; nevertheless, in order for horses to meet the performance requirements of today’s society, they are frequently fed processed grains and sweet feeds that are heavy in carbs. In some cases, this might result in hindgut acidosis, which is characterized by a decreased pH in the colon and cecum. A greater amount of acidity results, which might alter the delicate bacteria equilibrium in the hindut and perhaps harm the mucosal lining of the colon.
It is possible that tissue will die, leading in food obstructions and caused colic in the future.
It has been established, however, that feeding horses grain high in simple carbohydrates is associated with the development of colic-like symptoms in some instances. Veterinarians may learn more about this research by registering or logging into the SUCCEED Veterinary Center website.
Reduce the Risk for Horses to Colic
Colic is becoming increasingly common in barns as a result of current techniques in feeding and caring for horses. However, induced occurrences of colic in horses can be avoided by addressing the underlying reasons. Among the steps you may take are the following:
- Allowing carbohydrates to breakdown before reaching the horse hindgut, which prevents acidosis in the hindgut, smaller but more frequent meals should be provided. Increase turnout, reduce feed concentrates, and increase the amount of high-quality pasture fed. Slow down your horse’s food intake by include chaff (chopped hay) in his meals to help lower his risk of colic
- Give your animals additional digestive assistance, such as a feed supplement that contains polyunsoluble lipids, beta glucan, nucleotides and yeast, to help them stay healthy on their own.
While many of these more natural equine management strategies may be impractical owing to time and budget restrictions, any change to your horse’s feed system might help him function at his peak performance.
Take this short survey to assess your horse’s digestive health.
Visit the Crusade Against Equine Colic for additional information on the many forms of colic, how colic is produced, how to recognize early indicators, and feeding and management advice for lowering the risk of colic.
What to Do If Your Horse Colics
Colic is not often a circumstance in which one should “wait and see.” It is critical to receive immediate care and treatment. It is possible that a colic may be light and will go away on its own, but some colics are signs of a more serious issue that will require veterinarian attention. Here’s how to deal with the majority of cases of colic. However, if your horse appears to be in difficulty, such as rolling and thrashing or appearing to be in agony, the first action should be to contact your veterinarian for assistance.
Evaluate the severity of the colic symptoms. Whether your horse is suffering from mild colic and appears to be in discomfort, is chewing at his flanks, or is standing extended, keep an eye on him and see if the colic subsides after approximately 30 minutes. Look for evidence of diarrhea or a lack of excrement, as well as signs of strange behavior such as crushed bedding, which may suggest that the horse was attempting to roll in his stall, sweating, trembling, or any other unusual activity. Following a diagnosis of severe colic, remove any foodstuffs from the stall, as well as any bedding that may have been used.
‘Belly lifts,’ hand walking, and lunging are all possibilities as long as the horse remains calm. A few minutes of trotting may be beneficial, but only for a short period of time. Don’t put him to sleep. If he appears to be feeling better, offer him a small amount of food. It’s possible that he’ll be better after eating, but keep an eye on him for at least several hours afterward. Yourhorseshould be back to normal, including generating a fair amount of manure within a short period. Some colics can be treated by taking your horse on a trailer trip.
The action helps the horse generate dung and release gas.
Again, it’s crucial not to stress your horse, or exhaust it out.
After 30 Minutes
If moderate colic symptoms do not subside within approximately a half hour, contact your veterinarian. Make a note of any changes in feed, medications or de-wormers provided, changes in habit, or anything else that comes to mind that might have provoked the colic episode. Consider how much manure he has generated as well as the consistency of his manure. If it’s runny, or if it’s really dry, it’s crucial to take notice of anything unusual about it. This may make it easier to determine the source of the colic and expedite the treatment process overall.
Rolling horses who are wrapped in blankets have a greater probability of being entangled in the straps. In the event that a horse rolls around in its stall, it runs the risk of being thrown against the wall.
If the horse is thrashing wildly, take precautions to ensure your personal safety first. Your first inclination will be to attempt to calm your horse, but a horse in great agony can become completely oblivious to everything, including a known and respected handler who is trying to comfort him. Call the veterinarian as soon as possible. The idea that vigorously rolling and thrashing might result in a twisted belly has been around for a long time. However, it has not been determined if this is correct or not.
Walking your horse has traditionally been recommended for colic treatment, but if your horse is already exhausted from thrashing and rolling, walking may just add to his exhaustion.
It is likely that stopping a horse from rolling will be almost difficult (and perhaps harmful).
Use Medications With Caution
If you have prescription medications in your first aid kit, such as muscle relaxants for spasmodic colic, exercise extreme caution while administering them. When you mistreat a horse, you may end up doing more harm than good. When colic is caused by a twisted or telescoped gut, it is critical to get a diagnosis as soon as possible. Don’t offer your horse anything that might hide the symptoms of an illness. If you have any reason to believe your pet is unwell, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Colic in Horses: Types, Symptoms and Treatment
From the perspective of a horse owner, colic is one of the most distressing disorders that may impact a horse’s health. Perhaps because, despite its relatively low occurrence, not only can colic hit without warning, but it also has the potential to be extremely life-threatening in some cases. In veterinary terminology, the term “colic” simply refers to gastrointestinal discomfort. A diagnosis of colic, since it is such a wide phrase, can relate to a variety of various underlying disorders, some of which are more dangerous than others.
It is loosely hanging in the abdominal cavity and surrounded by many other bodily parts.
According to studies, 4-10 percent of horses are diagnosed with colic every year.
Types of Colic in Horses
Gas Colic is a condition that occurs when there is a buildup of gas in the body. Gas colic is a condition that happens when there is an excessive buildup of gas in the horse’s digestive tract. These horses are prone to a lot of flatulence on a regular basis. Colic with spasmodic contractions Spasmodic colic is a kind of colic that occurs as a result of intestinal cramps or spasms. In addition to intestinal hyper motility, this sort of colic can occur. Impaction Colic is a condition that occurs when there is a buildup of pressure in the body.
- A blockage or impaction occurs when partly digested feed, often roughage, accumulates in the horse’s large intestine and prevents it from moving, resulting in a blockage.
- Sand Colic is a kind of diarrhea caused by a buildup of sand in the mouth.
- Colic occurs when a buildup of fine particle sand occurs in the big intestines of the horse.
- This rare kind of colic accounts for fewer than 4% of all colics, however it is extremely dangerous and potentially life threatening in its severity and duration.
- When the displacements are unable to return to their original locations, the situation is referred to as an entrapment.
- Displacements and entrapments are extremely severe because of the change in location, the blood supply to the area of the intestine is stretched.
- Strangulation colic occurs when the blood flow to a section of the intestines is cut off for an extended period of time (strangulated).
- Cutting off the blood supply It’s crucial to remember, however, that the great majority of colics never have a definitive cause identified and are never treated as such.
Fortunately, this “unidentified form” of colic has a recovery rate of more than 95%, which is rather impressive. To put it another way, most horses suffer from a moderate type of colic, which is easily managed by their veterinarian, so eliminating the need for further inquiry.
Symptoms of Colic in Horses
Despite the fact that there are several forms of colic in horses, the indications of colic in horses are nonspecific. The following are some of the most common indicators of colic that most horse owners are acquainted with:
- Pinning his or her paws to the ground
- Looking at the flank
- Kicking or biting at the flank
- Swishing his or her tail
- Repeatedly laying down and rising up
- They are lying on their backs
- Hurling oneself to the earth in a violent manner rolling
- Curled upper lip
- Stretched posture with hind legs a long distance behind Inappetence
- Extreme dullness
- Extreme agitation
- Bloodshot eyes and lips
- Increased respiration rate
A horse suffering from colic, on the other hand, will only show a few of these indicators. Furthermore, the signs and symptoms they present provide little insight into the sort of colic they are suffering from. Horse owners should consult with their veterinarian as soon as they feel their horse is suffering from colic, regardless of the cause. In many circumstances, receiving therapy sooner rather than later resulted in better outcomes. Bring the horses into a stable or a small sectioned off area for closer monitoring while you await the arrival of your veterinarian.
In the case of horses that are rolling or moving up and down, hand walking can be done provided it is safe to do so.
Treatments for Colic in Horses
Your veterinarian will do a comprehensive examination of the horse, taking notes on the color of their mucous membranes, their hydration condition, their heart rate, their respiration rate, and their stomach sounds. An inspection of the rectal cavity, intubation of the naso-gastric tube, abdominal ultrasonography, a belly tap, or blood sample are all possible procedures. All of these tests aid your veterinarian in gaining a more accurate picture of the sort of colic afflicting your horse, allowing them to devise a more effective treatment strategy for your horse.
- AntispasmodicsSome horses with colic have overactive spasming intestines, which require antispasmodic medication.
- Therapy using Electrolytes and Fluids Dehydrated horses can be treated with electrolytes and water delivered by a stomach tube or an intravenous dip.
- SurgeryAlthough it is despised by pet owners, surgical therapy is the sole choice in situations of twisted gut, strangling, and displacement/entrapment of the digestive tract.
- Unfortunately, not only are these procedures costly, but according to statistics, only 50% of horses who are operated on for colic survive the procedure.
Effects of Colic in Horses
Horses will always be susceptible to colic, unfortunately, due to the wide variety of colic forms and the special obstacles that the equine digestive system presents.
There are various risk factors related with colic that may be controlled by the owner, including the following:
- Colic is more likely to occur when there is a high worm burden
- Worm control Changing one’s diet too quickly raises the likelihood of developing colic. Impaction colic is connected with poor dental health
- Impaction colic is associated with poor dental health. Roughage quality – Diets containing a high proportion of coarse roughage (such as straw) have been linked to impaction colic in several studies. Focused feeding — giving more than 5kg of concentrates in a single or two feeds increases the likelihood of colic developing. Feed often and in little amounts to lessen this danger. Access to pasture — horses who spend the most time at pasture had the lowest incidence of colic. Exercise — a reduction in physical activity increases the likelihood of developing colic. Horses who crib have a higher incidence of colic than horses that do not crib. The frequency of colic is higher in horses who have just returned from a journey. Post-pregnancy — mares experience a higher incidence of colic in the 2-6 months following the birth of a foal.
Although not all of these risk variables can be changed by horse owners in every situation, having an understanding of them can aid in horse and nutritional management in order to reduce their influence. Although horses will always be susceptible to colic, careful nutritional and husbandry management can reduce the likelihood of their being unwell as a result of colic. Having a thorough understanding of the signs and symptoms of colic, as well as being vigilant in their monitoring, allows for speedier veterinarian intervention and referral, ultimately resulting to a greater recovery rate for the horse.
If you have any further questions or concerns concerning colic in horses, or if we haven’t addressed all of your worries, you may contact one of our equine professionals for additional assistance.
What to do if Your Horse is Colicking
Dr. Lydia Gray, SmartPak Medical Director and Staff Veterinarian, provides the following statement: Colic, often known as stomach pain in horses, can range from a short-lived, minor bellyache that often goes unnoticed to severe, unremitting discomfort that may or may not be correctable even with surgery, depending on the severity of the problem. It is critical for all horse owners to be aware of what to do if their horse colics, what NOT to do, and what to anticipate if and when a veterinarian is called.
What you SHOULD do if your horse colics:
If you see any indications of colic in your horse, remove all food from the horse and confine him to a safe area. Take any vital signs you can safely collect and contact your veterinarian. The following information will be extremely beneficial to your veterinarian in deciding whether or not your horse requires treatment and in advising you on what to do in the meantime:
- Specific indications and symptoms of colic, as well as their severity Pulse or heart rate (in beats per minute)
- Respiratory rate (in breaths per minute)
- And Body temperature (in degrees Celsius). Temperature of the rectal cavity
- Gum color (white, pale pink, dark pink, crimson, or bluish-purple)
- The color of the gums The moistness of the gums (whether they are moist, sticky, or dry)
- Time for capillary refill
- If there are any digestive noises, record them. Consistency and frequency of bowel movements
- Color and consistency of bowel movements Management, eating, or exercise regimens that have changed recently
- Information about your medical history, including deworming and previous instances of colic
- Breeding history and pregnancy status are also required. The horse’s insurance status is unknown.
What you should NOT do if your horse colics:
Consider yourself relieved of the responsibility of walking or maintaining the standing of your horse. Rolling horses twist their intestines, according to popular belief, but this is simply not the case. While some handwalking is acceptable (and even beneficial), peacefully resting until the veterinarian comes is also acceptable. Also, unless your veterinarian has specifically instructed you to do so, do not provide anything by mouth or by injection. Some drugs might conceal indicators, so when your veterinarian comes out, your horse may appear to be momentarily better, but as soon as he or she departs, your horse begins to exhibit signs once more.
Finally, you don’t want to take the chance of misadministering anything by any means.
Even if you are comfortable administering an IM or IV injection to a calm horse, it might be more difficult on a frenzied horse.
What to expect if and when the vet comes for colic
Depending on how painful your horse is, your veterinarian may begin treating him right away or may begin by going over some information with you. Prepare to provide an accurate history (including your feeding program, your horse’s usual exercise and turnout routine, your deworming and vaccination programs, any recent travel or other changes, and any recent travel or other changes) as well as to review your recent observations with the veterinarian. Once your veterinarian has completed his or her own physical examination, which may involve a rectal palpation, the placement of an endoscope, the placement of a stomach tube, a “belly tap,” which is collecting fluid from the abdominal cavity, taking blood, and other procedures.
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to determining whether a horse’s colic can be resolved medically or whether surgery is required, but a high heart rate, pain that is not relieved by medication or that returns quickly, and palpating a twist or displacement rectally are all indications that surgery is likely to be required.
More information about colic may be found in our page on Equine Colic and Digestive Health.
SmartPak strongly advises you to speak with your veterinarian if you have any particular queries about your horse’s health or welfare. This material is not designed to diagnose or treat any ailment; rather, it is intended to be merely informative.