Horse Colic and Horse Colic Symptoms

"Horse colic symptoms can vary."

Natural remedies can be used for horse colic prevention.

Horse Colic

by Fran Mullens

Horses are prone to several digestive disorders. Horses are designed for browsing on relatively poor quality forage, eating small amounts of food more or less continuously all day long. In other words they were made for grazing. Many of our horses today have to adapt to a diet of a wide array of food consisting of grains and other concentrated ingredients that are not a natural element of a horse's diet. One of the most frightening conditions a horse owner can see is colic.

Colic takes place in a horse when the gut becomes bloated as a result of a build up of blockage or gas. Blockage may occur when fecal material is impacted, or in the most grave type of colic, by twisting of the gut. Causes of colic in horses can vary greatly. Reasons for this condition may include damage to the gut resulting from worm infestation, sudden diet changes, stress and even wind sucking. Acute colic can lead to a build up of toxins in the gut or possibly fatal shock and maybe both.

Colic symptoms in horses can vary. If a horse has a mild bellyache he may be uneasy, you may observe him looking at his flanks. If a horse has a full blown twisted gut the horse will be in tremendous frantic pain. Most of the time, a case of colic in a horse will fall somewhere in between these two extremes.

If the gut is blocked by fecal material, medicinal mineral oil is normally administered by tube into the horse's stomach. This may clear the blockage in the gut causing the horse to colic. Surgery is usually not necessary in these cases. However, vital surgery is generally necessary if the gut is twisted.

Natural remedies can be used for colic prevention. Often they may be used in conjunction with veterinary treatment. Making sure that your horse receives plenty of fiber in his diet, and plenty of fluid will help prevent your horse from suffering with colic. If your horse is showing signs of colic, contact you vet immediately for advice and any necessary treatment. In the meantime walk your horse and permit him to nibble grass if he is interested.

A horse in distress from colic often will roll. If you know your horse well you will be able to tell when your horse is rolling for pleasure or distress. Call your veterinarian if you notice two or more of these symptoms in your horse:

  •     Breathing faster than normal
  •     Grunting, sighing, or groaning
  •     Unusual restlessness or uneasiness
  •     Anxious expression that is not normal
  •     Trying to urinate without success
  •     Sweating when resting
  •     Raised temperature
  •     Pressing against the wall with his hindquarters
  •     Kicking at or turning toward the stomach
  •     Lying down or crouching

Aromatherapy oils can be beneficial for horses prone to colic. Vetiver or jasmine oils may help horses whose attacks are brought on by wind sucking.

There are herbs that can be used to help relieve mild colic in horses. Mint helps horses that are colic prone. Giving a daily dose can help stop the gas build up. Valerian or chamomile has a relaxing effect on the gut. These can help relieve muscle spasm in the gut. Also soothing to the gut is the herb marshmallow.

Often taking a horse for a ride in a trailer will offer relief for a horse suffering from spasmodic colic. Traveling will help to encourage the gut to move for many horses. If the symptoms continue seek the help of a veterinarian.