Horse Colic Care for Horses in Brisbane, Ipswich and Lockyer Valley
Colic is the most common problem faced by horse owners.
The horse has the most poorly designed digestive system out of any animal, making them highly susceptible to gastrointestinal upset or pain.
If not treated quickly, colic can worsen with devastating consequences. If you suspect colic in your horse, immediate treatment by a veterinarian will not only give your horse the best possible prognosis, but potentially avoid costly surgery.
Colic is a broad term that describes any gastrointestinal upset or pain from mild to severe. There are many causes of colic, but most are related to the anatomy and microflora of the horse’s gastrointestinal tract.
The most common causes are:
- Sudden change in feed or pasture
- Poor dental care
- Infrequent or under dosing when worming
- Lack of water intake
- Sand ingestion
- Mouldy or tainted feed
Signs & Symptoms
The list of possible signs is endless. You should observe your horse’s behaviour and monitor their vital signs on a regular basis, so you know when something isn’t right.
The most common signs of colic are:
- Pawing at the ground
- Looking around at the flank
- Frequently laying down and getting up
- Curling the upper lip
- Playing in the water trough, but not drinking
- Keeping the head to ground while walking in circles
- Increased heart rate or breathing rate
- Excessive sweating around the flanks or shoulders
- Loss of interest in food or water
There are several types of colic, including stomach distention, impaction colic, displacement colic, gas colic, spasmodic colic and enteritis. Determining the cause and subsequent type is the first step in successful treatment.
Treatment usually involves:
- Listening for gut sounds
- Monitoring vital signs
- Using a nasogastric tube to alleviate gas
- Performing a rectal examination
- Administering medications
If the veterinarian suspects displacement or impaction colic that can’t be treated at your property, they will refer your horse to surgery. Most often, the severity of colic increases with time, which is why it’s crucial that you call a veterinarian immediately.