COLIC IN HORSES


Cheyenne Colic is one of the most common occurrences of treatment in horses. The word "colic" is almost a generic word as it is more of a symptom of some other problem than a disease.

We have listed below some of the more common explanations and causes of colic to improve your program for your horse(s). If you have any questions or need further information, give us a call!

Causes of Colic
These are just a sample of the most common causes of colic:

  • Parasites:: Both bloodworms and roundworms can cause colic -- bloodworms (strongyles) by damaging the blood vessels supplying the bowel and roundworms can reach such a high concentration that they can block the intestine.
  • Sudden changes in diet may cause colic:: Any new feed should be introduced gradually.
  • Insufficient water, or unclean water:: Horses should always have access to fresh clean water.
  • Irregular feeding:: Long intervals between meals may lead to the horse bolting his food down without chewing properly.

Types of Colic

  • Gas (or flatulent) Colic is the more common type. It occurs when there is a collection of gas in the bowel. It causes pain as it moves through the gut by distending the bowel abnormally. It is considered the least serious type of colic, although the violent reactions of the horse may not give that impression.
  • Obstructive Colic is when a mass of food accumulates in the bowel and prohibits passage through the intestines. This can happen if a horse bolts his food too quickly or is given inadequate water to drink.
  • Sand Colic is prevelent in sandy areas. It is caused by the accumulation of sand in the gut. Horse owner's in such areas should take precautions to help avoid sand colic.
  • Twisted Gut is where a portion of the intestine becomes twisted. It is extremely serious.

Symptoms of Colic

  • In gas colic, the symptoms will be intermittent, the horse going through quiet spells followed by violent spells. The horse may bite at his flank or roll. Even though gas colic looks violent and the horse is in a great deal of pain, the pulse does not usually rise above 50.
  • In obstructive colic, the consistent pain may cause the horse to paw at the ground and break into a sweat. The pulse may rise into the 60's. There will be an absence of abdominal sounds, which makes it easy to a veterinarian to diagnose this type of colic.
  • A temperature elevated into the 80's with evidence of pain often indicates a twisted gut.

Any colic should be treated seriously as the average horse owner will not be able to tell which of the above types of colic their horse has. The amount of ent pain is not always a good indicator of how serious things are. If your horse shows any signs of abdominal pain you should immediately call our office.

Preventing Colic

  • Establish a regular routine of feeding, turnout and exercise and stick to it.
  • Always feed the best quality feed and plenty of good quality hay.
  • Make sure the horse always has free access to fresh water.
  • Establish a regular regimen of deworming.

Good management can go a long way to preventing colic. Learn your horse's vital signs and be observant of anything out of the ordinary. The sooner we can treat the symptoms, the easier it is on the horse!


Contact our office to set up a feeding and vaccination program for your equine family!



Cherokee Animal Clinic
P O Box 416
(Hwy. 84 East)
Rusk, TX 75785

For Appointment or Emergencies
Call 903-683-5315



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