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Colic Problem in Horses

 Submitted by Michael Adams on March 18, 2010

Colic is the term used to refer to pain in the horse's abdomen. Colic can be mild or potentially fatal depending on the severity. It is one of the common causes of death in horses and ponies.

It is very difficult to tell how serious the episode may be in the early stages. Hence it is very important to call your vet the minute you realize your horse is suffering from any kind of abdominal pain.

There are different types of equine colic with different causes.

These are a few:

  • Sand colic which is caused when the horse grazes on sandy soil.
  • Gas colic when gas is produced faster than it is absorbed or passed out,
  • Spasmodic colic is caused when an irritated gut wall becomes overactive causing a spasm.  
  • Twisted Gut colic is one of the most serious forms, caused when the intestine gets twisted around the tissue that attached it to the gut wall.
Symptoms that will help you determine if the horse is suffering from colic:
  • You will realize the horse is in pain as it begins to kick at its belly and paws the ground.
  • The horse will lie down and stretch out and groan.
  • It becomes very restless and gets up and down and rolls frequently.
  • It will start stamping its feet a lot.
  • It will break out in a cold patch sweat.
  • It has difficulty breathing and begins breathing hurried and blowing.
  • The bowel movements either slow down or stop.
  • There is a change in temperature.
  • It stands in a stretched posture as though its trying to pass urine
When treating a horse with colic a few things a horse owner can do are; if the horse is normally left out in the field it should be brought into the stable, and the vet called. Never feed the horse; instead a little water can be given. Keep it warm. Always consult the vet before you administer any colic drugs. It is advised not to allow the horse to roll when he has colic and at the same time don’t let him walk around a lot as this will tire him. The horse will end up with more pain and discomfort and recovery becomes tougher, especially if it requires surgery. The vet will use drugs to relieve pain, relax the horse and ease spasms. He may also give a saline solution. If the gut is twisted then immediate surgery is required.
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