Signs Of A Horse Colic

Colic is one of the most common health problems in horses. It is very stressful for the horse and their owners. Restlessness and abdominal pain are the two main symptoms of a colic attack. Other signs in addition to this can be seen on a horse, depending on the severity of their colic pain.

Horse colic, also known as pain in the gut, is a common equine emergency. It is characterized by severe abdominal pain resulting from an impaction of a single or multiple large intestinal loops. When impacted, food that would normally pass through the stomach and into the intestine can ferment, leading to gas distention of the intestinal tract. Colic can also be caused by infection of the stomach lining, tumors or twisting of the intestines. While colic is often not deadly in itself, it can lead to life-threatening complications if it goes undetected and untreated.

A horse colic is a serious medical problem that can be life-threatening. It is important to know the signs and symptoms of a horse colic so that you can get your horse help as soon as possible.

Signs Of A Horse Colic:

  • Excessive Drooling or Salivation
  • Diarrhea or Vomiting
  • Abdominal Pain (Your Horse Will Be Very Uncomfortable)
  • Marked Weakness, Muscle Tremors, Muscle Cramps Or Generalized Body Spasms

Signs of a horse colic can be very subtle or very obvious. It’s important to know the signs because you may be the only one around to help your horse if it is experiencing colic.

There are several things that may indicate your horse is experiencing a colic and needs immediate veterinary attention:

-They are standing with their back end to the wind, or sideways to the wind. This happens because they are trying to relieve gas build-up in their abdomen by rolling on their side.

-They are pacing restlessly for more than 30 minutes, or walking in circles (this indicates pain).

-They have diarrhea (this indicates pain).

-Their urine is dark yellowish brown (this indicates dehydration and/or shock).

Signs Of A Horse Colic

Not all horses with colic present telltale signs of the disease (pawing the ground, kicking at the belly and rolling) but more subtle signs that can often be attributed to another issue. Colic can be more complicated than veterinary clients think, according to Sarah Freeman, BVetMed, PhD, DECVS, FHEA, FRCVS, who presented a session to veterinarians on better colic education for horse owners at the West Indies Veterinary Conference hosted by Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine last year. Dr. Freeman did her work in collaboration with the British Horse Society and a group she leads-the Nottingham Equine Colic Project.

This evidence-based equine health initiative helps horse owners recognize colic in their horses earlier, so they can contact their veterinarians sooner. According to the British Horse Society’s website, one in 10 colic cases may be critical and up to 80 percent of these critical cases can result in death or euthanasia.

Restless or agitated

  • Attempts to lie down
  • Repeatedly rolling
  • Unexplained sweating
  • Box-walking or circling

Eating less or droppings reduced

  • Eating less or nothing
  • Passing less or no droppings
  • Changes in the consistency of droppings

Abdominal pain

  • Flank watching
  • Pawing
  • Kicking at belly

Clinical changes

  • Increased heart rate
  • Reduced or absent gut sounds
  • Changes in the color of gums
  • Rapid breathing rate
  • Skin abrasions over eyes

Tired or lethargic

  • Lying down more
  • Lowered head position
  • Dull and depressed

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