Does flat beer help to treat colic?

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While there are many crazy wives tales for treating colic – like giving your horse a beer or rescue remedy – a home remedy may simply not be enough to overcome colic. No colic episode should be left unchecked by your veterinarian.

 There are many types of colic, each with their own unique causes. While success stories do circulate about horses with colic recovering by drinking a “cold one”, the risks of colic can be deadly and even a mild case can become life-threatening if left untreated.

 Diagnosing colic

The term ‘colic’ is used to describe any pain or discomfort in the gastrointestinal tract of horses. With so many types of colic and numerous health conditions with symptoms that mimic colic, it’s difficult to make a diagnosis without the support of a qualified veterinarian.

They have the knowledge and equipment to diagnose the exact type of colic and determine the best course of treatment. Using home remedies without knowing this information is simply taking the gamble that you’ve guessed correctly.

Using beer to cure colic

Your veterinarian will never advise you to feed your horse a beer if they suspect an incidence of spasmodic, or gas, colic. If your horse recovers from colic after a cold flat beer, it was going to recover anyway.  If you wish to try anything removal of food and short lunges can sometimes help.  Never wait to get a vet if your horse is rolling or thrashing, hasn’t passed manure for 12 hours or hasn’t eaten for 12 hours.

However, if you’re unsure about the type of colic, we don’t recommend feeding your horse beer without first seeking the advice of a qualified veterinarian. Any home remedy has the potential to do more harm than good and should be never be used.



  • Dr Louise Cosgrove

    The founder of Exclusively Equine Veterinary Services, Louise is driven to support horses in their recovery from injury or illness. A graduate of the University of Queensland, with international equin...

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