Signs of Equine Colic October 13 2015

Equine colic is quite a common complaint of the horse’s digestive system.  It can cause severe discomfort in a horse which is characterised by rolling, pawing and even the inability to defecate.   There is quite a range of colic condition,  from a mild amount of abdominal pain which can be cured with a dose of medication to the other end of the range where surgery has to be undergone.

Colic is therefore something that has to be taken seriously and your vet should be called.  Your horse may display some of the following symptoms:  lack of appetite, a lot of sweating, many attempts to urinate, a high pulse rate of over 50 beats per minute.  Also, your horse might also be showing signs of colic by pawing at the ground, looking at the flank, being anxious or depressed, perhaps playing in the water bucket but not drinking out of it, wanting to lie down or rolling and a lack of defecation.  These are a range of signs of colic which your horse may display some of.

If your horse is suffering from spasmodic or gas colic then you will notice sweating, gut pain and loud gut noises, restlessness and anxiousness and attempting to roll a lot.  If your horse is suffering from impaction colic then there will be no faecal production and the pain in the abdomen will be chronic.  He will be reluctant to eat and have extended periods of laying down.  He may also have an impacted colon, suffer from a drop in temperature as the disease progresses and have dark mucous membranes.

Spasmodic or gas colic is caused by excessive gas in the colon thus causing acute pain.  The causes of impaction colic can be a number of things such as heavy internal parasitism, dehydration as there is not enough fluid to keep ingesta moving through the gut, excessive ingestion of sand and so on.

If you have a stethoscope in your emergency kit, you will be able to listen for gut sounds and thus inform the vet when you call him out.  When the vet arrives, he will be able to make a diagnosis.  Often impaction colic can be treated with a laxative to move the blockage and the horse will be kept off his food until he defecates. If the impaction colic is caused by a twisted bowel, then surgery will be needed.  With spasmodic colic, a method of removing the excessive gas from the abdomen has to be administered by the vet. 

Following the advice of the vet, most colic cases can be treated at the yard and your horse can be brought back into work slowly.  You should always check for any signs of the colic returning.