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We are champions of the REACT campaign with the University of Nottingham and the British Horse Society, bringing you a series of informative articles about this important condition.

Scott Dunn’s Equine Clinic is one of 62 veterinary practices across the UK who have become Vet REACT Colic Champions for 2019, in a new scheme coordinated by The British Horse Society and The School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, University of Nottingham.

In many cases, the quicker signs of colic are identified and reacted to the better your horses chance of recovering. That’s why we are excited to be a part of the REACT campaign, helping to inform and educate the equine community on what colic is, the different types of colic and how you can recognise the signs of colic.

What is colic

Types of colic

Recognising signs of colic

An overview of colic

Colic refers to the symptoms of any sort of abdominal pain in the horse. It is not always serious and it is not always associated with the intestines. It can also be caused by pain from other abdominal organs. The horse will be reluctant to move and will often show signs such as pawing with its front legs, kicking up with its back legs, turning to look at its flanks, lying down, rolling, and sweating. Other things can look like colic, the most common being laminitis.

Most colic is not serious or life threatening and can be easily treated. However, some cases are caused by something more serious and will need urgent veterinary attention. In these cases, the longer it goes on the more serious it becomes.

Reasons for intestinal pain

  1. Sudden changes in diet or management, this can often lead to spasm or abnormal contract of the intestine.
  2. Eating large amounts of fibrous feed, such as straw. This can lead to distension and stretching of the intestine.
  3. Distension may also develop when a large amount of gas is produced in the intestines. This may be due to inactivity but is most often caused by rapidly fermenting food such new grass or oversized hard feed.
  4. Twisting or unusual positioning of the intestine. This can cause the most serious forms of colic, causing the blood supply to be cut off and leading to the affecting piece of intestine dying off rapidly. Urgent surgery will be needed, and positive outcomes depend on how quickly the problem is treated.

Steps you can take

  1. Try to avoid sudden dietary changes (unless advised by your vet), avoiding diets which are too rich and avoiding feeding on flush or new grass.
  2. Keep your horse active, with plenty of exercise.
  3. Try not to keep your horse stabled on hard feed.
  4. If colic occurs, try to make sure your horse is not in a place where it could injure itself if it rolls. If the horse is determined to roll, a soft open area is best. A horse in this condition can very dangerous, so please take extra care. Remove all feed.

Should you have any questions about colic, or your horses health in general, don’t hesitate to contact us.

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