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Colic In Horses
Mention this word to horse owners and it scares them. Colic is something that can happen to any horse during any time of the year. The term "colic" means that the horse has pain in the belly. This can be mild to severe and is sometimes fatal.
Horses are prone to colic because of the length of the intestinal system with many twists, turns and a couple of flips. They also produce a lot of gas during the digestive process. Horses can't regurgitate or burp so whatever goes in must go all the way through and out the other end.
Types Of Colic
Causes Of Colic
*not drinking enough water
*changing food abruptly
*bolting their food down
*bad or moldy food
*eating their bedding
*extreme temperature changes
*feeding on the ground in sandy areas
Signs Of Colic
These are some of the most common signs:
*refusing to eat
*pawing the ground
*kicking at their belly
*looking at their abdomen
*curling their lip repeatedly
*getting up and lying down constantly
*decreased or no abdominal sounds
What To Do
*take away their food
*check vital signs
*call the veterinarian
*do your best to keep them standing (walk them if need be)
Ways To Help Reduce The Incidence Of Colic
*get regular exercise
*regular feeding schedule
*feed hay before feeding grain
*feeding several small meals a day
*access to clean water (warmer water in the winter)
*water and feed horses after they have cooled down after exercise
If you have to call a veterinarian have the following information available: temperature, pulse, respiration, when was the last bowel movement its consistency, water intake, gum color, capillary refill time, and gut sounds.
It is hard to tell the difference between mild or severe colic during the early stages. Sometimes a horse with mild colic will react violently because they've never had this type of pain before. With a violent reaction you will need to call the veterinarian immediately.
A colicky horse that is in extreme pain can be dangerous to be around as they will sometimes throw themselves on the ground. You may be able to walk them around to keep their mind off of the pain, but if they are in severe pain you probably won't be able to stop them from rolling. If you can't stop them from rolling make sure they are in an area where they won't hurt themselves. Don't get yourself hurt by trying to stop them instead call the veterinarian.
While all colic cases should be taken seriously, if the horse is not showing signs of severe pain you can wait a few minutes to see if your horse improves as some colic's can be very mild. Don't give your horse any medication unless your veterinarian tells you to do so. If in doubt, don't wait call your veterinarian.
Despite precautions, your horse may still develop colic at some point. The best thing you can do is to know the signs and what to do. Most of the time horses will live to see another day.
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