Colic in equines, in its simplest terms, is a belly ache that can range from mild to fatal.
This gastrointestinal condition is the top killer in horses. There are several types of colic, ranging from impaction colic to colic caused by worms. Horses are physically unable to vomit anything that is ailing their digestive system, which contributes to the fact that colic can be deadly. As with all animals, certain individuals may be more susceptible to this medical condition. When it comes to colic, the best cure is prevention.
Correct and attentive horse care is one of the best ways to prevent colic. Keeping your horse on a consistent daily schedule is crucial. Feed grain and hay each day at the same amount and time. Be sure to turn your horse out in the paddock or pasture for the same number of hours daily. Mix-ups in your horse’s daily routine can lead to stress and digestive problems.
When springtime comes, and the grass is fresh and rich, it may be tempting to turn your horse out so he can have a nibble. Do this gradually! Your horse has become accustomed to a winter without grass, and turning him out to pasture for hours cannot only lead to colic but also to laminitis. If you happen to have blooming trees in your pasture that drop fruits or nuts, be sure to keep a close eye on your horse or clean up your pasture so that he or she does not consume them.
Horses with a gut full of worms are more susceptible to colic along with many other health problems. Killing off too many parasites at once can also increase your chances. Simply use a paste dewormer, or even a daily deworming supplement, to keep your horse on track. Be sure to speak to your vet about a regular schedule or if you don’t know how to administer correctly, especially if your horse hasn’t been dewormed for quite a while.
Another surefire way to keep colic away is to have your horse’s teeth floated regularly. Unattended teeth can develop sharp points that can harm the inside of your horse’s mouth, and potentially make him unable to hold a bit comfortably. You also want your horse to be able to grind down his food sufficiently; swallowing food in an indigestible state can lead to an impaction colic.
Last but certainly not least, horses absolutely must have fresh, clean water available constantly. It keeps your horse hydrated and his digestive system moving. Troughs in the field and buckets in his stall should be filled at all times. Water should be above fifty degrees Fahrenheit, as equines that drink cold water are susceptible colic.
Hopefully, after following these guidelines, you and your equine friend will never encounter the health tragedy that is colic.
The Equine Research Center. “The Colic Fact Sheet.” Equusite.