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22 March 2019   
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The Causes of Colic in Horses Including the Symptoms and the Need For Action

Colic - The term "colic" means pain in the abdomen and it is more common in horses than any other animal for many reasons. Some of the known causes have been attributed to the small size of the stomach and its small digestive surface; The inability of the horse 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, which may act as nuclei, to rest for indefinite periods; The predisposition of the horse to worm infestation; The dependency on 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 or sudden change in diet; Poisoning from eating something in the hay or field such as Ragwort, Acorns, Belladonna or some other poisonous plant, or from contaminated food or water. These are just a few of the causes of colic, while some may be mild, others can be 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.

The symptoms may be excessive rolling, looking at or biting the flanks, kicking, patchy sweating, pawing at the ground and increased lying down. Call the vet immediately and keep the horse warm and stabled in a deep bed. Allow the horse to drink but do not allow food. Walk him gently (if recommended by the vet) to discourage violent rolling. Note if the droppings are loose, hard, or if they are absent and there are none at all. In some cases of colic there may be impaction and your vet will need to know. Take note of the horses pulse, temperature and respiration. The vet may use painkillers, saline, and lubricant.

Twisted gut may be a complication of colic and rolling is commonly regarded as a cause, but this is open to doubt and opinion is not unanimous. The cause may be obscure, it might be from sudden movement such as a slip or fall, being cast in the stable or from worm infestation. The treatment for a twisted gut is urgent, whatever the cause it will require immediate surgery.

Good stable and field management may help to prevent some of the causes of Equine colic.

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