Basic Horse Care
How to Prevent and Care for a Horse with Colic Problems

With up to ten percent of all horse experiencing some form it each year, colic is likely going to be a health concern every horse owner will run into. Caused by any number of different things, colic is only a symptom of a greater condition, often something blocking the intestines. It’s important to be able to recognize colic quickly and seek treatment, as some forms of colic require urgent surgery.

These are a few signs that your horse may be experiencing abdominal pain:

– Rolling
– Lying down
– Trying to kick at her abdomen
– Appear agitated and pawing the ground constantly
– Standing up and lying down over and over again
– Trying to stretch itself out

Without the help of a veterinarian, it may be very difficult to ascertain just what is causing your horse’s abdominal pain. There are certainly types of colic that do not require veterinary attention, but if your horse appears to be in great pain (a horse will usually act violently if in great pain) then it is likely time to call the veterinarian.

Your veterinarian will ask for certain information to speed up the treatment. You may be asked to take your horse’s temperature or to monitor her breathing and heart rate. The veterinarian may also ask about your horse’s appetite and fluid intake, if she has been given any medications, or if she has eaten anything out of the ordinary. You will also be told to remove all food from the horse’s reach, and this may include her bedding if she tries to eat that.

When the veterinarian arrives he or she will attempt to treat the horse and figure out just what is causing the colic. There is a long list of potential causes, but some are more common than others:

– Tapeworms and roundworms can grow to a large number and obstruct the intestines.
– Ulcers may cause pain, and horses either fed infrequently or given concentrated foods are more susceptible.
– Foreign bodies such as sand, called “Enteroliths”, can obstruct bowel movements.
– Food might also become impacted in the bowel, causing an obstruction.
– Certain foodstuffs could also be to blame. Moldy foodstuffs for example are commonly the cause of a gas colic, wherein a large volume of gas builds up in the intestines.

Fortunately there are a number of measures you can take to help prevent colic in your horse. Clean drinking water and a clean feed surface are essential for keeping unwanted objects from being ingested. You might also consider elevating your horses feed, also to keep sand, dirt, and gravel from accidentally being eaten.

It is advisable to take good care of your horse’s teeth and deworm her as required to avoid worms from developing. It is a good idea to draw up a schedule of regular care involving dental care, deworming, checkups, and regular feeding. Horses that are fed irregularly are at a higher risk of colic.

Many veterinarians will recommend regular turnout for your horse, as some studies have shown that extensive grazing time will reduce the incidence of colic dramatically. The logic behind this idea is that horses, in their natural setting, will graze for around eighteen hours each day. Reasonably, colic in wild horses is much more infrequent occurrence, as this would have been selected against evolutionarily.

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