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What is colic in horses?

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Owning a horse means you must be aware of any health problems or conditions it might face. Amongst the various potential issues, colic is one of the most prevalent. You need to know how to spot the telltale signs of colic in horses and how to treat it. Read on to find all the information you require!

Colic refers to issues involving the colon and abdomen of a horse. Usually, it is described as a build-up of pain in the horse's abdomen that gets worse if left untreated. It can be caused by various factors, most of which are avoidable. In some extreme cases, colic is known to cause death.

What are the causes of colic in horses?

The majority of cases are impossible to diagnose as you can't find the origin. However, a build-up of gas or a blockage in the colon in an example of common causes. Parasites can also cause this problem, particularly tapeworms.

Medical conditions or complications involving the colon can also cause colic. This typically includes instances where the intestines are tied/twisted, causing a blockage in the tubes

What are the symptoms of colic in horses?

Various symptoms can present themselves depending on the type of colic a horse is suffering from. Nevertheless, some of the most common signs to look out for include:

  • Constant rolling around in discomfort
  • Pawing continuously
  • A tendency to lie down for extended periods
  • Restlessness moving up and down

Continually looking at their flank or attempting to kick their own abdomen

In extreme cases, your horse may also struggle to pass droppings. If your horse hasn't done this in over 24 hours, it's a strong sign they have pretty severe colic. Still, be sure to watch for all of the previous symptoms as they are relatively easy to spot. Horses are peaceful animals that don't do much. So, changes in their behaviour are easy to spot.

How do you treat colic in horses?

Thankfully, most forms of colic can be treated. As mentioned earlier, a build-up of gas or a blockage in the colon is the leading cause of this issue. More often than not, this is directly caused by the horse's diet and how well you look after them.

Avoid feeding in large portions - smaller portions more frequently are better to allow starches to digest properly. This can prevent a build-up of gas. Adding chopped hay to meals is also smart as it's harder for a horse to chew. Therefore, they take longer to eat their meals, allowing more time for digestion to take place.

You should be aware of what's lying around by your house as they might eat something that causes a blockage. Sand and dirt are two common things horses eat that can lead to a colic blockage. Be sure you clear this away if it is present near your horse.

Alongside a change in diet, you may also consider digestive supplements for your horse. Of course, consult your vet before you give your horse anything.

This guide should've provided you with some much-needed information on colic in horses. Now, you know how to spot this problem and what you can do to treat it.

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