Colic in Horses
Many horses get colic for many different reasons. Careful care of your horse can prevent him from getting colic. Horses that are kept in stalls get more colic than horses that are kept in a pasture.
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The definition of colic is that it is “pain in the abdomen”. This pain can be caused by many things that can be minor to things that are life threatening. Colic in horses can be difficult to determine if it is minor or fatal. Whenever your horse has abdominal pain plan on the worst and consult your veterinarian. Colic is the number 1 natural killer of horses.
There are many things that can cause colic. Your horse can have what is commonly referred to as sand colic. Sand colic can develop if you feed your horse on the ground. When the horse eats it will pick up small amounts of sandy dirt and swallow it. Over a period of time this dirt or sand will accumulate in the horse’s intestine. In time this buildup will cause the horse to become uncomfortable. Horses may ingest several pounds of sand or dirt before they develop colic symptoms.
If a horse eats a large amount of grain at one time it could cause colic. Sometimes when horses are put on lush green pasture they will eat too much and get colic.
If a horse has a bad case of worms it will keep the intestines from working properly. It can cause blood clots and dead worms could cause a blockage and the horse will get colic.
If a horse is fed and he is very hungry he could gulp down his food and this could cause a problem. If a horse is fed right after he has been working hard and is hot there could be a problem and the horse will get colic. If a horse is hot and drinks a lot of water he could get colic.
If you change your horses food do not do it all at once as this could cause colic. Mix the new food with the old food and make the change slowly.
If you feed your horse food that is spoiled such as moldy grain or hay it will cause colic.
If your horse chews the wood fence or his stall the pieces of wood he swallows could cause him to get colic.
Sometime your horse can have an intestine twist and this will cause colic and could cause him to die.
When your horse is developing colic he might become uneasy and his temperament might change. The horse may not want to eat or drink and he might be listless. He might run a temperature. He may start swishing his tail, stomp his hind feet and bite at his sides. The horse may also snort and groan. When the pain gets very bad the horse may lay down, stretch and kick at his stomach. Some horses may get constipated or have diarrhea. As the pain gets worse the horse may walk in circles, lie down and roll over and over. The horse may start walking into the fences and the sides of his stall. When the colic gets even worse the horse may start biting at his sides and he may start kicking.
You should try to keep a horse you think might have colic from rolling. When a horse with colic rolls it could cause an intestine to get a twist in it and this is very bad. Be very careful around your horse that has colic as the horse is in such severe pain he may hurt you.
The most common symptoms of colic are rolling a lot, sweating, kicking at their body, biting their belly, not eating and pawing the ground. They may also be down a lot, restless or lying down and getting up repeatedly.
If you suspect your horse has colic call the veterinarian immediately. While you are waiting try to get your horse to walk around for 15 to 30 minutes. Put him in a place where he will be safe from injury. Keep your horse as calm as you can. Do not give your horse any medication that is supposed to help colic before he has been examined by a veterinarian.
Horses that get colic will usually recover without any problem if they get immediate treatment.
There are a few things you can do to help prevent your horse from getting colic such as letting him go out in the pasture as much as possible. Horses that are kept in a stall will get colic easier than horses that are out in the pasture. Feed your horse at the same time everyday and this way he will not be extra hungry and gulp his food. Make sure your horse has clean water to drink at all times. Be sure you never feed your horse grain or hay that is moldy. Some people say it is better to feed your horse his hay before you give him grain. Do not put your horse in a pasture where there is very little grass and a lot of dirt showing. When you work your horse and he is hot and sweating do not feed or water him until he has cooled down. Be sure to worm your horse on a regular basis and if you change his food be sure to do it slowly. If you do all these things it will help to keep your horse from getting colic.