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Home » From Gas Colic to Strangulating Obstruction: Causes and Effects of Colic in Horses

From Gas Colic to Strangulating Obstruction: Causes and Effects of Colic in Horses

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Colic is a term that describes gastrointestinal pain in horses. Colic symptoms in horses can range from slight discomfort to severe pain, which can be fatal. Understanding colic symptoms in horses is critical for horse owners in order to spot early signals and seek adequate treatment. In this post, we will look at the most prevalent indicators of colic in horses and examine treatment options.

What exactly is Colic?

Colic is a general term for abdominal pain. Colic in horses can be caused by a variety of reasons, including gas, intestinal irritation, twisting or blocking, and intestine displacement or strangling. Colic symptoms in horses can be minor to severe, as well as acute or persistent. Acute colic is frequently characterised by sudden, strong discomfort that necessitates immediate medical attention, whereas chronic colic might be less severe but persistent.

Horses with Common Colic Symptoms

Recognising colic symptoms horse early on is critical in order to seek effective treatment. Some of the most common colic symptoms in horses are:

Appetite loss

Manure impaction or the presence of tiny, firm faecal balls

Pawing at the ground, glancing at their flank, and extending often

Rolling and getting back up again and again

Kicking their stomachs or lying on their backs

Heart and respiratory rates have increased.

Excessive sweating and drooling

Urinating in tiny amounts frequently

Depression or sluggishness

It’s important to note that horses might have colic symptoms without displaying any of the following symptoms. As a result, it is critical for horse owners to constantly check their horses for odd behaviour.

Horse Colic Symptoms

Colic in horses can be classified into numerous categories, including:

Gas colic is one of the most prevalent types of colic, and it is frequently caused by a buildup of gas in the digestive tract. This sort of colic will go away on its own with time.

Impaction colic occurs when large food particles clog the digestive track, producing extreme pain and discomfort.

Spasmodic colic is produced by muscle spasms in the digestive tract, resulting in pain and discomfort.

Twisted intestine: This is a severe form of colic caused by the intestine twisting on itself. The intestine’s blood supply is cut off, resulting in extreme pain and sometimes life-threatening complications.

When a section of the intestine or another digestive organ becomes caught and loses blood supply, this is referred to as strangulating blockage.

Colic Treatment for Horses

Colic in horses must be treated as soon as possible. Immediate veterinary care is essential. If you suspect colic signs in your horse, you should contact your veterinarian right away. Colic treatment in horses is determined by the underlying cause, severity, and length of the discomfort. Some horse colic treatment possibilities include:

Pain relief: To alleviate the horse’s discomfort, your veterinarian may provide pain medication.

Fluid and electrolyte therapy: To give nourishment and hydration, the veterinarian may administer intravenous fluids containing electrolytes and glucose.

Nasogastric intubation: A tube is introduced through the horse’s nose to the stomach to aid in the release of trapped gas and the relief of intestinal pressure.

Surgery: In severe circumstances, such as twisted intestines and strangulating obstructions, surgery may be required to resolve the issue.

Colic Prevention in Horses

The good news is that some measures can be done to prevent horse colic. Among the prevention measures are:

Feeding a balanced diet: Horses should be fed a diet high in fibre, low in starch, and low in sugar, and their diet should be modified gradually to avoid drastic nutritional changes.

Providing lots of clean water: To avoid dehydration, horses should always have access to clean water.

Getting plenty of exercise: Exercise on a regular basis can help reduce impaction and other types of colic.

Deworming on a regular basis: Deworming on a regular basis helps to avoid parasite infections that might lead to colic.


Colic symptoms in horses can range from moderate to severe, and they can be potentially fatal if not diagnosed and treated early. It is critical for horse owners to understand the main indicators of colic in horses and seek quick veterinarian care. Colic treatment is determined by the underlying reason, severity, and length of the discomfort. Early intervention and prevention measures, such as a balanced diet and frequent exercise, can help horses avoid colic.