Colic Symptoms and Prevention

January 23rd, 2020

Colic is a relatively common digestive system disorder among horses which simply means ‘abdominal pain.’ It refers to the abdominal discomfort experienced by horses that is often characterised by pawing, rolling, and the inability to defecate.

There are many types of colic that are spread along a spectrum of severity. Many of these can easily be resolved with a single dose of medication; however more severe cases may require surgery or potentially euthanasia.

As colic can turn serious very quickly, it is important to be aware of your horse’s condition and notice if there is anything out of the ordinary. Some of the symptoms of equine colic include:

  • Lying down or rolling more than usual
  • Repeatedly getting up and then lying back down
  • Pawing at the ground
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Lack of appetite or defecation
  • Frequent attempts to urinate
  • Excessive sweating
  • Abnormally high pulse rate
  • Kicking at the abdomen

The best way to stop colic from worsening is to be able to identify the signs and contact your vet immediately. Each condition is different and therefore has varying symptoms and signs that you need to look out for.

To prevent colic from happening, you need to be aware of what causes it. As colic varies from horse to horse, the cause behind it may change with each case. Some causes include:

  • Excessive gas accumulation
  • Dehydration
  • Internal parasites
  • Excessive ingestion of sand
  • Tumours in the gut

Some preventative measures that can be put in place in order to lower the risk of colic include:

  • Control intestinal parasites with medication and worming
  • Access to clean water
  • Maintain a regular feeding schedule and exercise regime
  • Do not feed mouldy hay
  • Don’t over graze pastures
  • If changing their diet/exercise levels, do it gradually

If you suspect your horse is suffering from some form of colic, contact your vet immediately so they can come and take a thorough look. Keep the horse calm as you wait and try to keep them from further injuring themselves by thrashing around on the ground.

The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the writer. Content published here does not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Petcover.

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