Horses cannot vomit nor can they belch. Consequently, whatever enters their mouth must travel through their digestive tract and exit from the rectum. Occasionally, this does not occur as planned and the horse will develop signs of colic.
By definition, colic in the horse is described as a condition causing symptoms of mild to severe abdominal pain due to spasms, twists, entrapments, obstructions or gas distention.
SIGNS OF COLIC
- Physical symptoms include: Sweating, rolling, pawing the ground, stretching or parking-out, posturing to urinate, not eating or drinking, and straining to defecate.
- Behavior symptoms include: anxiety, separating from the herd, and not interested in any barn activity or participation in typical activity.
CAUSES OF COLIC and COLIC PAIN
- gas build up in the digestive tract
- gastric ulcers
- intestinal torsion, twists, entrapment or blockages
- sand accumulation – typical in horses located on sandy pastures, paddocks or arenas
- inflammation of the bowel wall especially of the right dorsal colon
- fecaliths, fecaloma or concretions of fecal material
- intussusception – this condition typically occurs in nursing foals with a endoparasite burden. In this condition, the intestine will “telescope” upon itself
- over-ingestion or consumption of grain or of plant material that is not typical to the horse’s diet
Diagnosis is based on symptoms and an examination by your veterinarian. The examination may include a rectal palpation, abdominal tap, rectal temperature, ascultation or the abdomen and chest, and ultrasound. In the cases of medically non-responsive treatment modalities, surgery may be warranted for a more accurate diagnosis and treatment.
Your veterinarian may instruct you to administer (Flunixin meglamine) Banamine. This drug can be given either orally or IV. It is a prescription only medication and must be purchased through your veterinarian. The dose is to be given at 24 hour intervals unless otherwise instructed by your veterinarian.
- -IV fluids
- -pain modifiers
- -mineral oil and oral fluids
**Note: we recommend walking your horse ONLY if prescribed by your veterinarian. Walking your horse can exhaust his/her electrolytes, cause dehydration and increase lactic acid build-up in the muscles. If your horse is laying quietly, it is not necessary to make him get up and walk.
Colic can have very positive out-comes for your horse provided that medical intervention by your veterinarian occurs early enough in the course of the condition. Even with surgery, your horse can survive and continue to perform.
Platinum Performance and Smart-Pak companies both offer colic prevention financial insurance. To enroll your horse in their programs, contact both companies at their respective websites.