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What is Horse Colic?

In the world of equine health, horse colic is a condition of great concern. Untreated equine colic can result in sickness and even death. While only approximately 10% of horses die from colic, the death rate is twice as high for horses that develop colic than any other horse related disease.

Colic, for both humans and horses, relates to abdominal pain, with many specific conditions falling into this broad category. Stomach ulcers and intestinal twisting are two of the most severe conditions of colic which can get worse if the conditions go untreated. In most cases horse colic can be easily treated if found early. However, the root cause of colic in many cases is still unknown. There are six unique types of colic that a horse can develop.

  1. Impaction. In some cases, horses develop colic due to a blockage that occurs in the horse’s colon. As a result of the colon being blocked, the horse has difficulty passing waste and eventually develops colic. The block in the colon can occur when the horse consumes indigestible material, like sand, dirt, or old feed.
  2. Spasmodic. This type of colic is caused by a build-up of gas which results in inflammation in the intestines. This form of colic can cause the horse a lot of discomfort.
  3. Gastric Rupture. This rare condition is very serious as the lining of the stomach bursts.
  4. Enteritis. An infection can cause the horse’s intestines to become inflamed.
  5. Torsion. This is the most lethal form of horse colic as blood flow is cut off at a twisted point in the intestinal tract.
  6. Intussusception. Tapeworms or parasites can cause blockage in the digestive system and pose a serious threat to your horse’s health.

Monitoring a horse’s symptoms is important when any conditions are suspected. There are so many underlying reasons for colic and the signs can vary widely. An attentive horse owner knows the normal behavior of their animal and can often recognize unusual indications, even though they may not directly point to the diagnosis of equine colic. Owners should look for these symptoms and then immediately call a veterinarian for examination:

 

–          Lacking appetite

–          Incessant yawning

–          Restlessness

–          Groaning

–          Pawing

–          Circling or backing into a corner

–          Lying down more than usual

–          Excessive sweating or rolling

–          Curling the upper lip

 

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