Top 9 Causes of Horse Colic and Treatment of Equine Colic

What is Horse Colic?

Colic in horses is a term used to describe abdominal pain caused by some disruption of the horse’s digestive system. This pain may range from mild discomfort to agonizing pain that may in fact be life threatening.

Strictly speaking, equine colic is a clinical symptom rather than an actual diagnosis and it is caused by a number of underlying problems varying from severe gastro-intestinal conditions, to eating too much food too fast. Whatever the cause; horse colic is often a medical emergency and remains the leading cause of natural deaths in horses.

Horse colic can usually be divided into 3 types, intestinal dysfunction,
intestinal accidents and enteritis or ulcerations.

There are a number of signs that may suggest your horse is in pain and may have colic. The first signs of equine digestion problems noticed by horse owners will be changes in personality and behavior. Horses with colic are uneasy and may exhibit behavior problems during training. They often lose interest in food and water, and may generally come across as lethargic and depressed.

Other horse colic symptoms include:

  • Rolling excessively
  • Sweating
  • Pawing or scrapping
  • Kicking, looking at or biting their belly
  • Stretching out as if to urinate
  • Pacing
  • Repeated “flehmen” response or grimacing
  • Repeated lying down and rising
  • Grinding teeth
  • Sitting or lying down
  • Somber mood
  • Slightly increased temperature
  • Decrease or total lack of appetite
  • Inability to defecate
  • Little or no stomach gurgling

What Causes Horse Colic?

Colic can be caused by a number of things all varying in severity. Some of the common causes include:

  • Sand ingestion (Sand Colic) – Horses fed on sandy surfaces may ingest large amounts of sand over time. This sand builds up in the system and will eventually result in intestinal discomfort and colic.
  • Over-feeding
  • Parasite infestations
  • Changes in feeding routines, or an irregular feeding routine
  • Sudden changes in diet
  • Moldy or rotten feed
  • Ingestion of inedible materials such as sticks, stones, plastic, or wood.
  • Fine grain (this sometimes packs together and causes intestinal blockage.
  • Twisted intestines, which is a very serious condition that includes strangulation, incarceration and intussusception of the intestine. This often requires surgery to fix.

It can be incredibly stressful to see your horse in such pain and discomfort. It helps to know that natural remedies can often be used as a part or a holistic treatment plan for colic.

Say Whoa! Colic Relief is amazing – I have never in my lifetime seen anything that works like this. I even had a stethoscope and could not hear gut sounds, but after giving it within 30 minutes gut sounds returned. I take it with me on trips” .