How To Treat Horse Colic

Horse Colic - spotting the symptoms & treating equine colic

To treat horse colic and prevent further complications keep your horse calm. Call a vet immediately and keep the horse quiet to protect it from self-inflicted injury.

The severity of the pain is not a good indication of how serious the problem may be.

An equine pulse rate over 50 to 60 beats per minute, slow capillary refill time and blue mucous membranes indicate the serious nature of the problem.

Veterinary advice should be sought immediately. Only your vet can assess these things.

All feed should be removed and nibbling at bedding should be prevented until your vet arrives.

What you should do if you suspect your horse has colic :

Walk your horse

Your horse should be walked as this will distract him from the pain and will also help prevent your horse from rolling.

If you can’t prevent your horse from rolling, your horse should be placed in an area where it can inflict little damage to itself and where it can’t become cast.

Horse health advice - Horse Colic

Recurring Problems with Equine Colic

Recurring colic can be due to a number of more serious causes such as tumours, ulcers and problems with one of the abdominal organs and this should be investigated by your vet

Above all else you should ;

  • Stay calm
  • Try to walk your horse and distract him from the pain if he is trying to roll or thrashing about.
  • If you can’t walk him, keep your horse stabled with lots of bedding and stay calm.
  • If he continually tries to lie down or roll, remove anything which might harm him.
  • If he does try to roll violently move him to a field or a large shelter without fences or ditches.
  • Do not offer your horse any food and ensure he doesn’t eat the bedding.

Your Vet will perform a thorough physical exam and implement medical therapy and pain relief.

In some cases, treatment might include administration of ample IV fluids to increase fluid volume in the bowel.

Over-hydration of the intestinal tract and its circulation improves blood flow and motility that might relieve an impaction or return a mild displacement to normal.

In the event that a horse does not respond to medical therapy, in a reasonable time, your horse may be shipped to a referral hospital for a further diagnostic workup and possible surgery.

Abdominal ultrasound, abdominal fluid analysis and blood analysis can be performed at a referral hospital to gain as much information as possible about your horse’s condition.

In addition, precautionary steps will be taken to protect against laminitis, which is a possible side effect of severe horse colic.

What to do if you think your horse has colic :

Prevention of colic is far better than any treatment and you, the horse owner, should try to create an ideal environment that minimises the risk of your horse contracting any form of colic.

Try to ensure the following is in place, wherever you possibly can ;
  • Feed – at least 60% should be forage (hay or pasture).
  • Hard feed – limit grain or hard feed to as little as possible, none preferrably.
  • Feeding Systems – use areas and receptacles that limit the intake of sand and dirt.
  • Grazing – allow grazing in non-irrigated fields and control the intake of rich forage.
  • Calories – use high-fat feeds & high-fibre feed. instead of grain supplements,
  • Turnout – provide as much turnout and exercise as possible, every day.
  • Water – always provide clean, ice-free, drinking water
  • Herd Health – If using shared grazing formulate a herd health program.
  • Worming – Use a regular worming program & try to to make other owners do the same.
  • Stress – keep it to a minimum in transport, herd dynamics, stabling, illness & injury.