Colic Horse Treatment


Colic is one of the main causes of death in horses. Colic refers to pain in the abdomen. We use this term in horses to refer to any condition that causes abdominal pain. It is analogous to a stomach ache in humans. There are many reasons why one might colic. In any case colic is to be considered and emergency and your animal needs to see a veterinarian for evaluation. When colic is diagnosed early it is many times more likely to have a positive outcome.

What are the signs of colic?

  • Rolling on the ground
  • Acting restless
  • Pawing
  • Odd stretching
  • Distended abdomen

3 levels of colic:

  • Where moderate therapy is needed
  • Where intense therapy is required or surgery is needed
  • Where surgery is the only option

An abdominal surgery is very traumatic to the animal so we make every effort to avoid surgery when possible.

Causes of colic?
There are many reasons colic. Many times, when a horse colics the exact reason is not known. Sometimes a build-up of sand, dirt, feed and other indigestible material can block normal digestion. Fermented gas can also buildup and cause bloat. The intestines of the horse can get twisted up cut off blood supply to the intestines. When the intestines get twisted up they can get blocked or tear. Parasites such as intestinal worms can build up and block the intestines.
There are many reasons a horse colics. The most important thing is that the cause is identified and treated quickly because, though many of the causes are simple and not life threatening, many are deadly.

How do you treat colic?
When a horse is colicing, research and experience has shown that the best non-surgical treatment is to provide the animal with copious amounts of fluids. Most veterinary clinics do not possess the amount of fluids a colic horse needs for treatment. We believe it is necessary to have enough fluids available readily on hand for multiple horses. Our clinic has developed a reputation because of the amount of fluids we keep on hand. So much so that we regularly get calls from other local veterinarians for supplies when they have a client with a colic horse.

The combination of IV fluids, medicines and physical therapy often averts the necessity of surgical intervention.

How do you prevent colic?
– Be careful switching your horses feed. Their body gets used to the food they eat. If you switch it too fast the bacteria in their intestines are not able to adapt fast enough. Feed good quality forage.

– Though it may be easier on you, don’t feed the horse on the ground. They can pick up sand and dirt easily that will build up in their gut and cause problems later on. Go the extra mile on this one and feed them in a pan or tray of some sort.

– Make sure horses always have access to water. Both the outside and inside of the intestines need to stay very lubricated and water is the main component in natures lubricant. Keep their water source looking, smelling, and tasting clean so they drink all they want. Nobody wants to drink from something that looks like toilette water.

– Establish a good parasite prevention program.