Gastrointestinal issues can have serious complications for horses when not treated quickly. Knowing the signs can help to seek veterinary care as soon as it's needed. Here, our San Angelo vets discuss the prevention, symptoms, causes, and treatment of colic including surgery performed by our experienced equine surgeon.

What is colic and how does it affect horses?

While colic itself is any type of intestinal pain, many horse owners refer to colic as an issue affecting the gastrointestinal tract. The causes of colic are numerous, but generally, they are related to the anatomy and the microflora of the horse's gastrointestinal tract. 

Causes of Equine Colic

There are many different causes of colic in horses. Some of the most commonly seen causes are:

  • High grain-based diets
  • Low forage diets
  • Moldy/tainted feed
  • An abrupt change in feed
  • Parasite infestation
  • Sand ingestion
  • Long-term use of NSAIDs
  • Stress
  • Dental problems
  • Lack of water consumption leading to impaction colics

Signs & Symptoms of Colic in Horses

Colic, no matter the cause, has a number of common symptoms that you can watch for. Colic can have serious complications so if you notice any of the signs, we recommend that you contact our San Angelo vets today.

Some of the common symptoms of equine colic are:

  • Pawing
  • Rolling
  • Bloating
  • Sweating
  • Distress
  • Uneasiness
  • Loss of interest in food and water
  • Peculiar postures (sitting, stretching)

How to Prevent the Occurrence of Equine Colic

There are a few different ways to help prevent colic in your equine. Once you know what is causing the colic, you can take steps to prevent it from happening again. 

  • Feed your horse on a regular schedule, and do not miss feeding even on the weekends.
  • Do not make sudden changes to the horse's diet, if you must change your equine's diet, do it gradually.
  • A clean fresh water supply should always be available.
  • Keep all your equine supplies like feed boxes, hay racks, and feedstuffs clean and free of mold and dust.
  • Check teeth regularly for dental problems that may cause chewing issues.
  • Provide exercise regularly.
  • Feed the appropriate amount of forage.
  • Keep feed off the ground to avoid sand ingestion.
  • Parasite control on your farm is very important to maintain.

Treating Horses Experiencing Equine Colic

The severity of the signs of colic is not always the same as the severity of the colic, and it can be difficult to determine the exact cause and therefore the perfect treatment.

Because of this, make sure to have our Western Veterinary Hospital vets evaluate your horse as soon as possible.

Many cases of colic can be treated successfully with medication, while others involving severe impactions or twists may require immediate surgery.

Horse Surgery Carried Out by Our Equine Surgeon in San Angelo

At Western Veterinary Hospital, we pride ourselves on having stringent surgical protocols and believe that it is in our patient’s best interest to use a standing procedure whenever possible to help limit the risk of complications from anesthesia.

Colic procedures are some of the most common soft tissue surgeries that we perform. Your horse's condition will be assessed by our vets and equine surgeon, who will then offer surgical treatments if this is in the best interest of your horse's long-term health.

Our equine veterinary team is available during our clinic hours to carry out corrective colic surgery and intensive post-operative care which is vital for survival.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding animals or professional advice regarding equine regulations. For the diagnosis of your animal's condition and help to navigate rules governing the care and transportation of equine animals, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your horse showing signs of colic or other gastrointestinal issues? Contact our San Angelo vets right away.