What Happens When A Horse Colics? (Solution found)

Since horses can’t throw up, the fluid stretches the stomach and causes pain. Without relief, the stomach may burst. If poor motility occurs in the colon, gas will build up and lead to gas colic and maybe displacement.

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)

How do you treat colic in horses?

Most colic cases can be treated on the farm with medication and the use of a nasogastric (stomach) tube to alleviate gas and administer medications. However, if the veterinarian suspects a displacement or an impaction that can’t be successfully treated on site, she will refer you to an equine surgical hospital.

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?

Typical practices such as stall confinement and low forage intake have become key contributors to increased risk of colic. The most common types of colic are related to impaction, in which undigested feed or foreign bodies such as parasites block the movement of digesta through the intestines and cecum.

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 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.

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 long does it take a horse to get over colic?

After a successful colic surgery, some horses make a quick and routine recovery and return to their homes within five days to a week. But for others, this recovery process can be a challenging ride full of ups and downs, needing several days of intensive medical care and intravenous fluids.

Should you let a horse with colic roll?

Create a safe area Take out any buckets or any other objects the horse may injure themselves on in the stable and leave them quietly until your vet arrives and can give them a sedative/painkiller. Allowing the horse to lie down and/or roll does not make colic worse or cause a twisted gut.

How do you prevent colic in horses?

Feeding to Prevent Colic

  1. Feed your horse only what he needs.
  2. Stick with your feeding program.
  3. With grain, think small and often.
  4. Keep him moving.
  5. Get sand out of the ration.
  6. Remove manure from paddocks and fields.
  7. Use dewormers effectively.
  8. Don’t miss out!

Why can’t horses vomit?

Horses don’t throw up either. The reasons they can’t are related to their physiology and anatomy as well. Horses also have a weak gag reflex. And finally, their anatomy, with the stomach and esophagus joined at a lower angle than in many animals, would make it difficult for vomit to travel up and out of a horse.

Are gut sounds good in horses?

Intestinal or gut sounds (borborygmi), are caused by the propulsive action of the equine intestines that contain gas, water and feed. These rumblings and gurgles are normal in healthy horses, and suggest proper function of the gastrointestinal tract (normal motility).

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.

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 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.

  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:

  • Horse rolling due to colic, as shown in Figure 2. Colic in a foal may not manifest itself in the traditional manner. Instead, individuals may prefer to lie on their backs with their legs tucked in behind their bodies. If a foal exhibits odd behavior, the foal owner or manager must be on the lookout for it. Because of the gas in the foal’s stomach, it has distended. Information courtesy of Michigan State University’s Dr. Judy Marteniuk What Are the Different Kinds of Colic? A wide range of illnesses, including the following, are linked to colic. Stomach distention – Because of the tiny size of the horse’s stomach, it is prone to distention when significant amounts of grain are consumed in a single meal. There is the possibility of a stomach rupture, which can be deadly. When the small intestine is displaced, the mesentery suspends it in the abdominal cavity, allowing it to float freely in the stomach. The small intestine might get twisted as a result of this motion. To properly place and remove any damaged portions of an intestinal strand, surgery must be performed as soon as possible after the intestine has been twisted. In addition, both the small and large intestines might become displaced inside the abdominal cavity, resulting in discomfort as well as limited blood circulation. In some cases, gas buildup in the gut can cause the intestines to become buoyant and move about inside the gut, resulting in displacement colic. Surgery is required for the treatment of displacement colic. Figure 4.The intestines are small in size (Figure 4). Mesentery is a thin membrane that connects the small intestine to the rest of the digestive tract in the abdomen. It permits the small intestine to move freely throughout the body. Colic due to obstruction occurs when the large intestine folds back over itself, with multiple changes in direction (flexures) and variations in diameter occurring at various points. Impactions, in which a hard mass of feed or foreign material plugs the gut, can occur as a result of these flexures and diameter changes (including the cecum). Fine feed material, dryness, and the deposition of extraneous materials such as sand can all cause impactions. The large intestine is illustrated in Figure 5. Typically, obstruction colics occur in the cecum and large intestine, although they can appear everywhere. A gas buildup is related with all colics, and this is true for all of them. In addition to the stomach and intestines, gas can build in the colon. Abdominal discomfort occurs as a result of gas buildup in the intestines. Large quantities of grain or moldy feeds might cause excessive gas production in the intestines due to bacteria in the gut. To alleviate the pressure created by the accumulation of gas and fluid in the stomach, a veterinarian may implant a nasogastric (stomach) tube. Spastic colic is characterized as painful spasms of the smooth muscle in the intestines. It affects both children and adults. As with indigestion in humans, spasmodic colic may be treated by a veterinarian and is typically rather simple. Spasmodic colic can be caused by excessive excitation. It is possible that germs, grain excess, or polluted diet caused the inflammation of the gut. It is possible for horses suffering from enteritis to have diarrhea. When it comes to diagnosis, enteritis might be difficult to distinguish from other conditions such as displacement or impaction colic. Treatment It is critical to identify the underlying cause of colic in order to provide the most effective therapy possible. Even though the intensity of colic’s signs and symptoms are often related to its severity, it might be difficult to pinpoint the actual cause of colic and, thus, the most appropriate therapy for it. Make sure to have your horse evaluated by a veterinarian as soon as feasible in light of the above factors. Medications can be used to treat many cases of colic, but in other situations, such as those with severe impactions or twists, emergency surgery may be required. As a precaution, you should do the following while you are waiting for your veterinarian:

In addition to performing a rectal exam, the veterinarian will listen for gut sounds and monitor vital signs upon arrival. A nasogastric tube will also be passed. Medications and the use of a nasogastric (stomach tube) to relieve gas and administer medications are effective treatments for most colic cases on a small farm. When a veterinarian suspects a displacement or an impaction that cannot be successfully treated on site, she will refer you to an equine surgical hospital for further evaluation.

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When making dietary changes in the future, keep in mind that if an abrupt change in diet caused a problem, it is best to make the changes gradually in the future.

  • 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.

Colic In Horses

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 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 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. There are certain colics that can only be addressed by surgically correcting the underlying condition that is causing them.

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.

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.

Try Motion

‘Belly lifts,’ hand walking, and lunging are all possibilities as long as the horse remains relaxed. 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, feed him a small amount of food. It’s possible that he’ll be better after eating, but keep a check on him for at least several hours later. You should see a return to normalcy in your horse within a short period of time, including the production of a decent volume of dung.

Moving about might help to ease mild impaction colic or gassiness.

This could be beneficial for mild colic.

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.

Safety First

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). If it is safe to do so, relocate him to a location where he is less likely to damage himself or acquire a cast if that is a possibility for him.

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.

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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
  • Sweating
  • 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 displays moderate or severe symptoms they will need urgent veterinary attention and possibly referral to us, if this is an option. You should walk your horse around (do not canter or trot) for no more than ten minutes if your horse is showing mild symptoms of colic. If symptoms persist for more than 30 minutes or are more severe in nature call your vet immediately.

If you think your horse is showing signs of colic please contact your veterinary surgeon.

Colic is an illness that has the potential to be lethal. 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 they are exhibiting minor signs of colic. If the symptoms linger for more than 30 minutes or become more severe in the wild, contact your veterinarian right once.

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:

Gas (spasmodic)

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.

Gastric rupture

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.

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 When Your Horse Colics

At nine o’clock, it’s time to do a last inspection of the barn before retiring for the night. In addition to the pleasant, muffled sound of horses happily eating on hay, you can hear something else: a pawing at the wall, followed by a kick at it. Despite the pleasant weather in the stable, you notice that your 18-year-old horse is perspiring. He is constantly moving his head to gaze at his flank, and he has a troubled expression on his face. When you look in his feed bucket, you notice that there are still pellets left over from his nighttime meal.

  1. During a veterinary examination for colic, the veterinarian will listen for digestive noises.
  2. It is the most prevalent equine sickness requiring emergency care, and it is commonly referred to as the single most lethal disease affecting horses worldwide.
  3. Generalized classifications include simple blockage, strangulating obstruction, and inflammatory illness as the root causes of obstruction.
  4. Embertson, DVM, DACVS, one of the owners of Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky, and one of the hospital’s veterinarians.
  5. When the flow of intestinal contents and the blood supply are both impeded, this is referred to as strangulating obstructions.
  6. Inflammatory disorders that affect the small intestine (enteritis) or colon (colitis or diarrhea) might manifest themselves in a similar manner to a typical colic in some cases.

What Causes Colic?

The $64,000 question is: what are you going to do? In the vast majority of instances, the reason of colic is still unknown. It is possible that the source of gastrointestinal discomfort in colicky horses that have been effectively treated medically will never be established, according to Dr. Embertson. The anomaly causing the stomach discomfort is discovered and repaired in horses that require surgery to alleviate colic symptoms. However, the exact explanation for the abnormality’s occurrence is frequently still unknown.” The investigation into the diversity of variables that appear to be connected with the development of colic in horses is still underway.

  • There are specific causes of colic in various types of horses that have been identified.
  • The environment or geographic location of a horse may potentially predispose him to particular forms of colic in certain situations.
  • Development of stones in the intestines is more common on the West coast, whereas ileal impaction (related with feeding Coastal Bermuda grass hay) is more common on the east coast and in the southeast of the country.
  • Dr.

“There are other research that demonstrate that this is not the case.” In addition, there is no evidence to suggest that psyllium is dangerous. “It is high-quality fiber, which is likely beneficial to the health of the intestines,” says the author at the very least.

Signs of Colic

Dr. Southwood explains that the indicators of colic “may be as subtle as more frequent or extended times of lying down or a loss of interest in meals,” among other things. When combined with the horse monitoring his flank, pawing at his belly, extending as if attempting to pee, lying down, and rolling or thrashing, these signals are more often connected with colic than with any other condition in the horse’s life. These are the indications and symptoms of colic. You may also note that there is less dung in the stall.

“Know your horse,” she adds.

“Even slight changes in your horse’s behavior may serve as an indicator that he is suffering from a cause of discomfort.”

Colic Treatment

Dr. Embertson emphasizes that the first step toward a favorable outcome is identifying the indicators of colic and that your horse is in discomfort. It is vital to note that horses’ pain tolerance varies from individual to individual. Older horses, especially draft horses in particular, will be slower to alert you to the fact that they are hurting than younger horses. As soon as you notice your horse is in distress, remove any remaining feed from the stall and contact your veterinarian, who may prescribe administering an oral non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicine (NSAID) such as Banamine® to alleviate the discomfort.

This will be quite helpful to your veterinarian during the initial evaluation.

The occasional violent roll of a horse suffering from colic should be avoided at all costs, and the horse should be restrained in a secure location to prevent damage.

Fortunately, the vast majority of horses suffering with colic—80 to 90 percent—can be treated medically at home with pain medication, oral lubricants, laxatives, and water, among other things.

Taking Your Horse to the ER

According to Dr. Southwood, preparing a horse for transport to a veterinary hospital is dependent on the animal’s level of suffering and the diagnosis provided by the referring veterinarian. The recommending veterinarian has the authority to provide short-term pain medication if he or she believes it is essential. A horse should be checked for reflux immediately prior to shipping if the vet has placed a tube through the horse’s nose into the stomach and liquidy reflux is produced through the tube, or if the vet detects small intestinal swelling when feeling around in the horse’s abdomen through the rectum.

  • The veterinarian will assess whether or not intravenous fluids should be administered.
  • On arrival at the clinic, a nursing assistant will be summoned to help you in bringing the horse in.
  • When your horse is taken to the vet, the nurse will take his temperature while the vet listens with a stethoscope to hear his heart, lungs, and digestive noises.
  • A blood sample will be taken for analysis, and a catheter will be inserted into a vein to enable for fast delivery of drugs and fluids to the patient.

A rectal exam may also be performed by the veterinarian to check for any abnormalities in your horse’s abdomen. It is also possible that he or she will tube your horse again to check for reflux.

To Operate or Not

Dr. Southwood notes that when surgery or further medical care is necessary, horses who are treated as soon as possible have a greater chance of survival and experience fewer problems. If a horse is already in an emergency clinic, he or she will have more immediate access to surgical facilities and a surgical staff with more experience. The choice to take a horse with colic to the vet for surgery is mostly based on the horse’s prolonged stomach pain, which does not seem to be improving with pain medication.

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Embertson explains.

In some situations, such as those with strangulating blockages, surgery is the only choice for life, and the quicker the procedure is performed, the better.

Southwood explains, “these horses would either have to be euthanized or suffer a horrible death.”

Postsurgery Prognosis

The good news is that, during the past 15 to 20 years, the prognosis for horses suffering with colic has improved significantly. Early referral and surgical intervention, says Dr. Southwood, have proven critical and are likely the most important variables leading to the substantial improvement seen in horses who have required surgery. “The findings of a large amount of study,” Dr. Embertson continues, “have increased our understanding of colic and our capacity to properly treat horses that have been impacted by it.” Many surgical procedures have been in use for many years, but research is always revealing new and improved methods of doing them.” Survival rates and the rate of return to function have both improved as a result of surgical advancements.

  1. Embertson, laparoscopic surgery, which needs a very small incision, has proven to be effective in preventing several problems that might lead to repeated colic in children.
  2. In those instances where surgery is indicated, it is not necessary to regard it as a final resort.
  3. Embertson believes that prompt transfer to referral surgical centers rather than protracted therapy before to referral, as well as surgery conducted without delay, are two of the most important factors contributing to improved results.
  4. This was a significant improvement from the previous year’s 25-percent rate.
  5. When it comes to disorders that cause strangling of the small intestine, surgery performed within three hours after the onset of the colic may typically repair the problem without requiring excision of the afflicted portion of the small intestine.
  6. It has been shown that older horses and young foals have survival rates that are equivalent to those of their younger and older counterparts, respectively.
  7. The discovery of medications that reduce the formation of adhesions during surgery as well as those that aid the intestines in returning to normal function following surgery have both led to improved results.

“There have also been advancements in the measurement of pain and the most effective strategies to manage it, both in the hospital and during surgery,” Dr. Southwood continues. Our horses also benefit from the research that has led to the development of more stringent monitoring procedures.”

After Successful Surgery

Antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory/analgesic medications, as well as intravenous fluids and nutritional assistance, if necessary, are frequently used as part of post-operative care. In Dr. Embertson’s words, the aim is for the horse to return to a proper plane of nutrition and the intended usage as rapidly as possible. Early detection and resolution of a colic episode are critical in order to achieve this aim. As a result, there is less postoperative care, a shorter hospital stay, and cheaper medical costs.” In the next month, horses are often stall-confined with hand-walking and turned out in a small paddock for a second month, after which they may be moved into a bigger field for another month and gradually reintroduced to their exercise schedule.

Any problems should be brought to the attention of their veterinarian or surgeon.

According to Embertson, “even with the advancements made as a consequence of study,” the most essential element influencing the fate of colicky horses is reducing the duration of the colic episode.

Keep an eye on your horse’s comfort level and, most importantly, take action as soon as you believe colic is present.

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.

If therapy is delayed, the outlook for survival might deteriorate. 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
  • Groaning
  • sSweating
  • 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.

What to do if Your Horse is Colicking

Dr. Lydia Gray contributed to this article. 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.

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