How to Treat Colic in a Horse

Colicking Horse
Colicking Horse (Image: photo by Bob Langrish)

Horses are gorgeous creatures, and many little girls falls in love with them in a love that lasts a lifetime. Having a horse can be a big responsibility, however. Colic is the leading killer of horses. It can be treated if caught early, and you should contact your vet immediately to help you in this healing mission. Knowing what to do and how to do it can save your equine friend's life.

Things You'll Need

  • Telephone to call the vet
  • Halter
  • Lead Rope
  • Mineral Oil

Learn the signs of colic. These include little to no gut sounds; obvious gut pain shown by kicking, nipping at sides, rolling; lethargy, and stress.

Call the vet immediately. It doesn't matter what times of day or day of the week. Your horse can and will die from colic if it is bad enough and not immediately treated.

Halter your sick horse, and get him up and moving. Impaction colic is when an intestine is blocked, and the only way to help is to provide movement. in turn, this will get the horse's circulation going, and it increase gut movement. There are many cases of mild colic that can actually be resolved by lots of hand-walking.

Look for evidence of a bowel movement. This is a good indication as to whether or not your horse may have an impaction. If you see no fresh poop, try and get at least 20 cc (up to 60 cc is safe) of mineral oil down your horse with a syringe by squirting it into the back of his mouth. Keep his head raised, and stroke his throat. Mineral oil cannot hurt your horse, and it can help loosen things up. In fact, this is very likely what your vet will do when he gets there.

Keep your horse moving until the vet arrives. Do not allow it to roll. When a horse rolls violently in pain, it is likely to twist an intestine. If the vet will be a long time coming, you might consider loading your horse into the trailer and hauling it into the clinic. This is helpful for two reasons... your horse will be examined earlier, and horses often defecate once they are in a trailer. This would help anything stuck up in there to get moved out.

Keep all food and water away from your horse until a vet has examined it. You do not want anything else going in until you can make sure it can come out. Remember, the reason horses colic is because they cannot vomit. Once a horse swallows something, there is only one way out.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you grow tired of walking your horse, enlist the help of friends.
  • A horse in pain can be dangerous as it thrashes around. Be prepared for this when you are handling a sick horse.

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