Five Tips for Preventing Horse Colic

Newsdate: Thu 8 June 2017, 10:00 am
Location: GILROY, California

June marks Equine Colic Awareness Month, a time for horse owners and equestrians to focus on learning about and raising awareness for colic prevention.

Signs of colic pain in horses

Signs of colic pain in horses

Determining the severity of your horse's colic is difficult, so it is important to watch your horse closely and notify your veterinarian when signs are recognized that help in an accurate diagnosis of the problem. New window.

Both new and seasoned horse owners know the traumatic experience of seeing horse colic for the first time. The strange movements of rolling, pawing, sweating and labored breathing of the horse, along with the frightened rolling eyes is enough to give even a seasoned veterinarian a few heart-racing moments.

The causes of colic are many and examples would include: build up of gas in the intestine, inflammation of the bowel, or blockages secondary to intestinal displacements, “twists” or severe impactions of the intestines. The latter two frequently require surgery for correction.

The signs of colic include: repeated pawing, rolling, sweating, labored breathing, looking back at the abdomen and restlessness. However, other abnormal behaviors may also be present.

It is difficult to determine the severity of your horse’s problem when it first begins, so it is important to watch your horse closely and notify your veterinarian as soon as signs are recognized.

In addition to calling your veterinarian at the first sign of a problem, you should also remove all hay and water access from the horse and keep the horse calm and quiet if possible.

It is okay to allow the horse to lay down or even roll as long as you or the animal are in an area where injury is not likely in open pasture or a large stall. Most horse owners are awater that they shouldn't administer any drugs horse without first consulting a veterinarian.

Things which you can do to help prevent colic in your horse are: 

  1. Routine health care including parasite control and dentistry are very important in preventing colic, 
  2. Established daily routines with feeding and exercise schedules,
  3. Provide constant access to fresh clean water,
  4. Feed only limited amounts of grain as a supplement and insure that your horse’s diet consists of mostly good quality hay or pasture for grazing (an adult horse weighing 1000 pounds needs about 10 pounds of good hay per day).
  5. Feed your horse off of the ground to avoid sand ingestion and always check alfalfa for blister beetles before feeding your horse.

Advances in equine medicine and surgery continue to improve and horses that were not successfully treated years ago are now recovering to live comfortable lives today. Remember that early intervention is critical to the quick resolution and favorable outcomes when dealing with colic in horses.

About the author

The news team at EquiMed is dedicated to keeping the horse community informed about the latest developments related to horse health and the horse industry from a community, state, national and global and political perspective.

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