Equine colic

Horse with colic symptomsGastrophilus larves in the stomach of a horseUlcerations in the stomach of a horse

 

Colic (Fig. 1) or abdominal pain is frequently seen in horses. Colic is age or race independent and symptoms may vary from mild to severe. There are various causes of equine colic such as:

  • dietary issues related tofood quality (contaminated, mouldy) or composition (too much grains, not enough roughage)
  • dietary changes
  • abnormal digestion
  • uptake of sand
  • teeth problems
  • stomach parasites (Fig. 2)
  • stomach ulcerations (Fig. 3)
  • colon displacement
  • gut torsion
  • strangulation of the intestines (i.e. lipoma; Fig. 4)
  • peritonitis
  • tumours
  • Grass disease

A rectal examination will always be performed on a horse with colic symptoms. Specialised exams include abdominal, rectal ultrasonography, abdominocentesis (examination of fluid from the abdominal cavity) and gastroscopy. Diagnosis of decreased resorption is performed by an oral glucose tolerance test.

Based on the diagnosis, a targeted treatment plan will be started. In the first place, if possible, a medical therapy will be performed. However, in severe cases a surgical intervention will be necessary.

Information about feed management, deworming schedules and tips to avoid colic in future will be given.

Contact: Da. Laurence Lefère and Dr. Dominique De Clercq