Colic Information

Provided by:
Chaparral Veterinary Medical Center

  1. Symptoms (may include one or more of the following):
    1. Lying down for prolonged period with or without looking at his side
    2. Repeated rolling and/or thrashing
    3. Partial or complete loss of appetite
    4. Pawing at the ground or playing in water with mouth
    5. Depending on type of colic, either decreased bowel movement or frequent and loose bowel movement.
  2. Causes:
    1. Food-related - sudden change in type; or the feeding of dusty, moldy or coarse feed or grass clippings
    2. Enteroliths, which are stones that can form over years in the horse's intestine
    3. Worms (parasites)
    4. Sand - from eating off the ground, inadequate amounts of feed, or boredom
    5. Overeating or over-drinking, especially when "hot"
    6. Stomach ulcers
    7. Intestinal accidents such as twists or displacements
  3. First Aid:
    1. Check temperature with rectal thermometer and check the heart rate with a stethoscope (if available).
    2. Walk the horse too, if it is thrashing or rolling.
    3. Colicky horses should be kept off feed, but if the symptoms are very mild, a quart of bran can be fed, either wet or dry.
    4. During the day in hot weather the horse may be wet down with water.
    5. If symptoms are severe or if mild symptoms persist for more than two hours, call 602-992-4700 for advice or treatment.
  4. Follow-up (after treatment by your veterinarian):
    1. Walk the horse if colicky.
    2. If the horse receives a sedative it may lie down, which is okay as long as the horse is quiet and does not roll.
    3. Call if symptoms persist or re-occur.
    4. No solid food until the horse is alert, showing no symptoms, and has passed some oil (usually 10-20 hours).  Water is usually okay in small amounts.
    5. First feeding should be bran (one quart) followed by a 1/4 feeding of the usual feed, after which normal feeding can be resumed if the horse is acting OK.
    6. For sand colic, in addition to normal feed, give four (4) quarts bran mixed with one cup of mineral oil and one serving of PSYLLIUM twice daily for two to three weeks, then call for follow-up appointment.
    7. For other colics, in addition to normal feed, give four (4) quarts of bran daily for one week.
    8. Give one serving of psyllium daily for one week out of each month as a routine to all horses.