There are a number of swear words in the English language starting with the letter C…. and for equestrians, Colic is one of them.
The term “colic” refers to abdominal pain as opposed to a specific disorder and could be caused by a number of conditions such as gas, impaction, grain overload or parasite infection. It’s one of those conditions which can go from mild to serious in a short space of time and warrants concern if you start to see symptoms or if your horse simply isn’t acting themselves.
If you suspect your horse may have the onset of colic, herewith 10 “Do’s and Don’t” to assist you in your treatment plan:
1. DO seek veterinary attention regardless of the severity of the symptoms. With colic, minor problems can become major concerns if left too long. Relate your horses’ clinical signs over the phone to allow the vet to decide whether it requires immediate veterinary attention or close monitoring by the owner until such time it shows it is in fact worsening.
2. DO look for the presence of faeces within the stable or paddock. Absent or reduced amounts of manure can indicate a problem.
3. DON’T permit access to food (concentrates, teff, lucerne or grass) as this could exacerbate the problem – especially with impaction colic. Some horses will eat regardless of pain.
4. DON’T leave the horse unattended. If colic is suspected, stay with the horse and monitor them for as long as it takes. Conditions can worsen very quickly and should be checked every 15 to 20 minutes at minimum.
5. DO start to make preparations if needed should the condition worsen. If you don’t own your own horse box, ensure you have access to one or ask equine transport services to be on stand-by should it be required. Always ensure your horse box is functional and in working condition – tyres sufficiently inflated, license disk renewed and valid and generally sufficiently roadworthy.
6. DON’T medicate the horse without your vet’s approval as any pain relief medicine could mask symptoms and clinical signs, making it difficult to get an accurate diagnosis. Also remember not to over-medicate as this can cause ulceration and renal issues. If the horse is not responding to the suggested dosage of pain medication it’s often not because it’s not sufficient, it may mean the condition is beyond what relief that medication can offer them. TREATMENT BY A NON-VETERINARIAN MAY RESULT IN INSURANCE CLAIMS BEING REPUDIATED.
7. DON’T attempt administering anything via nasogastric tubes yourself as it could cause the horse to aspirate if done incorrectly – which may be more fatal than the colic diagnosis itself.
8. DO chat to your equine insurer and keep them fully informed. Find out what documentation is required (if any) from the attending vet and/or any co-payment information so you are aware of any financial implications.
9. DO ask the vet for advice and consider management changes and gastric ulcer prevention methods (particularly for stressed or anxious horses) to try prevent the re-occurrence of colic. For some horses this may be a change in feed or housing conditions or an increase in their exercise regime.
10. DON’T simply leave the horse to suffer should you anticipate the treatment cost to be more than what you can afford. Colic left untreated can result in serious and painful consequences such as a twisted gut, ruptured stomach and inevitably become untreatable. Seek financial aid or chat to your vet about possible payment plans in order to give your horse the best chance at survival and recovery. Seriously consider equine insurance which, for a small monthly fee, could make the difference between a life and death decision.
Colic is one of those conditions which can be resolved fairly easily most of the time, but it could also be fatal so should never be taken lightly.
For those without equine insurance, consider signing up for extensive medical cover, Medsure (if budget permits) or at a minimum a Critical Care policy. Alternatively, an awesome industry first available only from Arco360 is COLIC COVER. This is available as a stand-alone product with no mortality cover required. This product offers cover for all colic cases – both in and out of hospital, extending the benefit beyond critical care.
To find out more, or to obtain a quote for Colic Cover, contact Arco360: