Horse Colic

Everything you ever wanted to know about horse colic!

Usually when we hear the mention of colic, we're quick to associate it with babies. Colic can be deadly for horses and the more you know, the better off your horse will be.

While colic can be difficult to diagnose, some horses seem to be in a higher risk bracket to have colic. Athletic horses used in racing events or specialized training, those that are confined inside a stall for more than 12 hours a day, those that are fed grain first before hay and does not discriminate because sex or breed have no bearings.

What is colic in horses?

In a nutshell, it's abdominal pain. The tricky part about colic in horses is that there are several different types of colic, some can be difficult to differentiate from the next and the scariest thing is that a horse can die from colic.

Usually colic originates from gastro complications in the large intestine, sometimes gas builds up, causing the intestine to stretch or food is lodged in the intestine resulting in blockage and sometimes, ruptures are spawned inside the intestine causing a horse a great deal of pain. There are several types of colic and below is just a few of the most common.

Common Types of Colic

  • Gas colic
  • Impaction Colic
  • Enteritis/colitis
  • Displacement
  • Gastric distension
  • Spasmodic

While a few a these types of colic are minor, some may require immediate surgery and it's hard to tell just what type of colic a horse may have which is why a horse owner should definitely seek the services of a licenses vet to diagnose the problem. Colic may very well be the problem in itself or an underlying effect that could lead to the diagnosis of something much worse.

Signs or Symptoms

Some horses will show mild signs but in extreme cases, symptoms may be more evident.

  • The horse may roll around often.
  • Excessive pawing on the ground.
  • Restless behavior such as lying down and getting back up repeatedly.
  • The horse may try to kick the abdominal area often.
  • Standing in a stretched out stressed position.
  • The horse may curl the upper lip excessively.
  • Standing frequently in a position that may appear that the horse needs to urinate.

Monitoring the horse's behavior is a must and depending on the severity of the colic, the horse will demonstrate all or some of these actions. There are ways to help prevent horse colic too.

Prevention

There are some easy ways to protect a horse from the pain and complication of colic, most are very common practices that a horse owner should already do for his or her horse.

  • Regular exercise.
  • Regular meal times.
  • Clean water.
  • Gradually make changes in diet.
  • Give the horse around 60% of digestible energy by feeding them forage.
  • Only feed or water a horse after they have cooled down.
  • Don't feed horses any type of food with mold.

Keeping your horse healthy may not be exactly easy but with a little bit of work, a horse can be happy and healthy. While it's outlandish to think that colic can be totally avoided, by practicing prevention and maintaining regular check ups with vets, the condition is less likely to become severe if the horse has it. Playing it safe is always the best route.