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Horse Health 101 : Horse Health Library : Colic

Types of Equine Colic

There are many types of colic that a horse can develop, from minor to fatal, some of which include:

Displacement or "Twisted Gut":This is where a part of the intestine has shifted places in the abdomen and begins to twist, causing torsion that blocks the horse's blood supply. This is a very serious condition and requires immediate medical attention. Onset can be very acute and without surgery, the horse will most likely die. Luckily, displacement is a very small percentage of all colic cases.

Sand Colic: This is caused by a buildup of sand in the horse's intestine. It is generally seen in horses that feed from the ground in sandy pastures and can cause diarrhea and weight loss in some cases. It is recommended that feed be suspended off the ground in areas with excessive sand or dirt to prevent this form of colic.

Pelvic Flexure/Impaction Colic:This type of colic occurs when a dense mass of food becomes impacted in the large intestine of the horse and is often caused by insufficient water intake, causing constipation. This condition can, in most cases, be treated fairly easily, but more severe instances could require surgery.

Gas Colic: When gas builds, the intestine is stretched and can be painful to the horse. It is generally mild and should resolve quickly with treatment. A more severe build-up can lead to serious issues so it is important to keep an eye on the colicky horse.

Gastric Distension/Feed Colic: When a horse consumes an excess of food very quickly, the digestive tract becomes out of balance and in some cases causes the stomach to rupture, which is fatal to horses in all cases.

Enterolith: Enteroliths are intestinal stones caused by mineral deposits that form around some ingested foreign material like gravel, and can block the horse's intestine. This type of colic is not very common but is serious and requires surgery to correct.

Equine Parasites: Horses can easily pick up parasites from their food and water or in the form of forage mites that have ingested the eggs. Tapeworms, strongyles and roundworms are a few of the most common colic-inducing parasites, although roundworms primarily affect younger horses.

Mid-Rivers Eqine Center is available 24/7 for emergency colic surgery. If your horse is exhibing colic symptoms or you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at (636) 332-5373

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