Equine Ailments - A to Z
Colic - The term "colic" means pain in the abdomen. It is more common in horses than any other animal, there are many reasons; it has been attributed to the small size of the stomach and its small digestive surface; the inability to vomit or unload the stomach by vomiting; the great size of the intestines and the puckering of the large intestine allowing food or foreign bodies to lie there; the horses predisposition for worm infestation; the dependency of the feeding patterns of the owner (horses are natural grazers and should not be left without food) colic is more common at night and is frequently connected with irregular feeding; These are just some of the many causes of colic, some mild and others life-threatening or fatal. Because it is difficult to distinguish, in the early stages, how severe the attack of colic may be, all cases must be treated seriously. Symptoms may be excessive rolling, looking at, or biting, or kicking flanks, patchy sweating, pawing at the ground, increased lying down.
Call the vet immediately, keeping the horse warm and stabled in a deep bed. Allow a drink but no food. Walk him gently (if recommended by vet) to discourage violent rolling. Note droppings, loose, hard, or none at all. Note pulse, temperature and respiration. The vet may use painkillers, saline, and lubricant. Twisted gut – a complication of colic will require immediate surgery.