The Facts about Horse Colic

The term colic literally means “pain in the abdomen”. Many things can cause such pain, which range from mild to life threatening. The greatest concerns with horse colic is the difficulty of detection in the early stages and determining which cases are mild and which cases are potentially fatal. Therefore, any abdominal pain in horses should always be taken serious.

Types of Horse Colic

A number of different types of horse colic exist, such as:

Impaction Horse Colic

Horse ColicThe intestines are blocked by a hard food mass. This occurs most commonly at the flexures in the large intestines. Although this is a common type of horse colic and it is easy to treat, the impaction may be an indication of larger horse health problems and should not be dismissed.

Gas Horse Colic

Gas can build up in the intestine, especially in the large intestine or caecum. The intestine is stretched by the gas, which causes great pain. This type of horse colic is relatively easy to treat, you should always rule out any underlying reasons for this problem.

Spasmodic Horse Colic

Sometimes horse colic occurs due to an increase in intestinal contractions, which are abnormal spasms that cause the intestines to painfully contract. Such cases generally respond well.

Displacement or Twisted Gut

The term displacement is used to describe a portion of intestine that moves to an abnormal position in the abdomen. Twisted gut occurs when a piece of the intestine becomes twisted. Except in rare cases, this type of colic leads to total intestinal blockage and immediate surgery is required for survival.

Small or Large Intestines

Often times, abdominal pain is caused by inflammation of the small or large intestines. In such cases, veterinary attention s immediately required.

Gastric Distension or Rupture

If a horse gorges itself on grain or some type of substance that expands when wet, such as dried beet pulp, the stomach contents will swell. Horses have small stomachs and lack the ability to vomit, which means that it is actually possible for the stomach to burst. Death is the only outcome in such cases.

If you notice signs of horse colic, which can range from almost undetectable in the mildest of cases to extremely violent when the case is severe, it is important for you to act. The severity of the case will determine exactly what you should do when your horse shows signs of colic. Keep in mind that the vet should be called immediately if your horse is behaving violently. One of the big parts of horse care, is knowing your horse extremely well and noticing signs that they are not feeling their usual chirpy selves.

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