If you own horses, you need to know about colic. It’s one of the
biggest risks in a horse’s life, with 10-11% of all horses suffering from it. The result of improperly
treated colic could be severe to the point of death. By now, you need to be able to spot the signs of
colic, because if you don’t and miss the chance to seek medical help, it may be too late for your horse.
Here’s what you need to know about your horse and colic.
To begin, you should understand what exactly colic is. Colic is classified as
an abdominal pain that happens to be a clinical sign rather than a diagnosis, meaning that colic isn’t
necessarily the end but the beginning of something worse. Typically the pain will occur in the gastrointestinal
tract and is linked with colonic disturbance, such as an impacted colon or worms of some sort.
Usually the instance of colic will be brought on as a result of either an
obstruction, a strangulating obstruction, or a non-strangulating infarction. The first is as simple as it
sounds. Someone your horse’s intestines have become impacted for one reason or another, such as the
aforementioned worms (tapeworm, roundworm, etc.), or also commonly as a result of their diet if they graze in
locations with a lot of sand or dirt, meaning that they’re attempting to digest that which their body really
can’t handle. Other causes come down to ulcers, left or right dorsal displacement, or a pelvic fracture. With
that obstruction, your horse’s intestines will continue to produce fluid that cannot escape and will thus build
up, causing a reduction of plasma and possibly distending the intestines.
With strangulating obstructions, not only is there a blockage, but it is
cutting off circulation to veins and arteries, which can lead to far more severe problems. With a
non-strangulating infarction, the blood is entirely closed off to certain areas, though here there is no
obstruction to point to. No matter the type, all three can be serious problems if nothing is done.
The real tricky thing is that there are so many indications of colic within
your horse. The short list includes:
-Pawing or scraping
-Frequent urination attempts
-Constant checking of the stomach or hind quarters
-Biting the stomach
-Repeatedly getting up and lying down
-Lack of appetite
-Decreased waste output
-Increase in pulse rate
-Dark mucous membranes
-Repeated flehmen response (curling of the upper lip)
-Grinding teeth or clenching the jaw
If your horse starts to display any of these, it’s a good idea to take them to
the veterinarian straight away. It’s always better to catch something early than late! Still, you can help
prevent the risk of colic by taking some basic precautions, such as always providing clean feed and drinking
water, adding carbohydrates and fiber to their diet, keeping their food supply free of sand and dirt,
maintaining good dental hygiene (your horse, not you), regularly having them dewormed, and overall a sense of
regularity to their diet.
Colic can turn serious very quickly, and it’s not uncommon either. With such a
high risk, shouldn’t you take some steps to keep your horse healthy?
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Deadly Equine Diseases
Tips for Keeping Flies Under
Horse Inspection Checklist
Five Most Common Horse Diseases
How to Spot a Malnourished Horse
Top 10 Most Poisonous Plants for Horses
Feeding and Rebuilding a Malnourished Horse
Helping a Horse Living with Cushing's
How to Treat Abscesses on Your Horse
Colic and Your Horse
Confirming That Your Horse Has Rabies
Helping a Pregnant Mare
Handling a Rattlesnake Bite to Your Horse
Being Aware of Tetanus and Your Horse
Preventing Thrush in Your Horse