Colic

“Hey! I went out to feed and ‘Dancer’ is down, all sweaty, and she won’t get up.” These words will get any horse owner’s attention and likely some immediate action.

At another North County home, while the “horsey” person in this family is out of town, Dad decides that the horse is just not hungry for the second day in a row.

Both these horses have colic. The first is very obvious; the second, not as clearly. Colic is a general term that includes many kinds of abdominal pain. Both these horses need veterinary evaluation and treatment.

Each year we attend between 100 – 150 colic cases, and the months of September and October are usually the most active months. The overnight temperatures are cooling, daylight hours are less, and young riders are back in school; these factors may all play a role.

Here is a list of known factors involving colic risk and prevention:

  • 1. Consistent feeding: good quality hay of the same amount, the same type, the same time of day every day. Feeding three or more times each day is better than the twice-a-day practice.
  • 2. Large clean water source so the temperature will stay more even and there is adequate reserve in case supply is interrupted.
  • 3. Good dental care for more effective, comfortable chewing.
  • 4. Adequate parasite control through manure removal and a deworming program. The only way to really tell if your program is effective is to do fecal parasite counts.
  • 5. Feeders/mats to reduce ingestion of sand or infective parasite larvae.
  • 6. Sand screening and elimination of large colon deposits.
  • 7. Regular exercise for confined horses.

These are general recommendations for all horses. If you have a horse with recurring colic episodes, there are diagnostic and treatment plans to be considered. Please contact our office for an appointment for consultation.