Colic is a general term that refers to a disruption of the horse’s normal intestinal processes and is the most common medical ailment in a horse. The horse may be experiencing a digestive spasm, which is a temporary hyperactivity of the digestive track, or his intestinal activity may be reduced. Colic in horses can be life threatening, so being aware of signs and symptoms will help you determine if your horse is suffering from this intestinal ailment.
Typical Signs and Symptoms:
- Loss of appetite
- Curling of the upper lip
- Kicking at his abdomen
- Continually lying down and getting back up
- Standing frequently as if he has to urinate
- Turning his head towards the flank and biting at it
- Walking with head down, depression
- Repeatedly pawing at the ground
- Abrupt change in feed
- Twisted gut, when the intestine twists and cuts off circulation
- Gastric distention-when the horse gorges on feed which swells in the stomach
- Maintain digestive health by feeding your horse only what he needs. The best thing your horse can feed on is grass, which is low in carbohydrates and high in fiber.
- Maintain a consistent feeding schedule. Changes in a horse’s diet can attribute to this illness. If you are going to change the feed, do so slowly over the course of a week to 10 days.
- Feed small portions often. This allows for proper digestion to take place.
- Avoid feeding your horse on the bare ground. This will prevent ingesting sand, which can get lodged in the large intestines and cause blockages.
- Keep vaccinations current. Parasites can cause colic. Keep the fields your horse grazes in free from manure, which parasites live in.
- Exercise: Research shows that horses that get little exercise are more prone to abdominal disease.
To be proactive, you may want to discuss prevention methods with your veterinarian and become familiar with his preference for treatment.