Horses are known to be common sufferers of colic. Colic generally indicates abdominal pain.
The horse’s digestive tract and its function, as well as management practices by horse owners play an important part in the development of colic. Colic is not just a disease of the intestinal tract; in fact, bodily infections and even pregnancy can produce colic signs in horses. In 1986, colic was the leading cause of death in horses as reported by the Morris Animal foundation.
Colic treatments are expensive; therefore, horse owners should know what causes the condition, learn more about the clinical presentation, and the treatment and preventive measures involved to reduce the incidence of colic in horses.
The Different Causes of Colic
Various types of colic are presented and they can be caused by many different factors. Sudden changes in climatic conditions and feeding practices, and stress can lead to colic. Spasmodic colic involves severe intestinal contractions. When intestines are twisted or obstructed, a severe condition will result producing a very intense pain. The possibility of having twisted or obstructed intestines should be assessed by the veterinarian as early as possible because it could be a life-threatening condition that requires surgery.
Historically, internal parasites have long been considered as the most common cause of colic. Strongyle larvae that migrate can damage the blood vessels of the intestines, which consequently decrease the blood supply and lead to tissue death, decreased intestinal motility, and produces severe pain. Roundworms can also obstruct the intestines. Naturally, dewormers AbFen (fenbendazole horse wormer, ivermectin, etc.) are administered to remedy this problem but when there is massive killing of these parasites, they can release harmful toxins which can also be the cause of colic. For this reason, using deworming agents should be used as directed.
Diet can also present colic signs in horses. This involves sudden changes in their diet, and ingestion of foreign material (i.e sand) that can cause obstruction in the intestines. Concentrated diets can also lead to colic especially if there is not enough supply of roughage in the diet.
Mild colic in horses can be observed when the animal keeps pawing the ground with their front hoof; they may seem restless, will frequently lie down and roll. For severe colic, horses will roll even more and tend to lie down on their back to relieve the intestinal pressure. The horse could even throw itself to the ground and roll vigorously. It is difficult to work with a horse in such condition unless sedated. Colic can also be characterized by the absence of abdominal sounds.
Treatment for Colic
Colic treatment will depend on the type and severity of the condition. Painkillers may also be used to relieve the pain. The horse may also be given mineral oil to lubricate the digestive tract so it will be easy for fecal matter to pass through. In instances where colic is caused by parasite infestation, choosing the right dewormers to be given at the right schedule is important. Fenbendazole for horses is effective against small strongyles and is also a broad spectrum anthelmintic. Work closely with your veterinarian when using dewormers.
Colic can be a serious health problem for your horses. Keep your horses well monitored and understand that treatment costs can also be expensive. The best way to avoid this problem is to observe good management practices and avoid situations that you know will give your horses the chance to develop colic.