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Colic is an Emergency!

Any form of colic is an emergency - call your veterinarian immediately!

There are numerous causes of ‘abdominal pain’ or ‘colic’. Because some of them are life-threatening always call your veterinarian immediately should you observe any of the following signs:

Pawing, rolling, looking around or kicking at the abdomen, bloating, sweating, distress, uneasiness, agitation, loss of interest in food and water, unusual postures like sitting or standing stretched out, louder than normal gut noises or the absence of gut noises.

The last two are significant.

Gut Noises & Colic ...

Under certain climatic conditions - for example with the onset of autumn, when the days are still warm, the night-time temperatures are dropping along with Autumn or drought breaking rain, which alter the chemical composition of the grass an increase in the incidence of certain equine ‘colics’ is common.


At a time you know your horse is well, familiarise yourself with his normal gut sounds by standing at his side keeping his head bent slightly around towards you. Place your ear against his flank just behind the ribs. You will hear a variety of gurgly, rumbly sounds. These are the normal sounds of the digestion process.

Check both sides.

There are multiple reasons for a horse to colic,  a few of which can be associated with the changes to the grass with a seasonal change.

Gaseous Colic

The mineral imbalances arising from these changes in the grass, not only have the potential to affect the skeletal muscles, but also the smooth muscles of the digestive tract. These smooth muscles create the 'wave -like' movements  of the digestive tract (peristalsis) which push the food through.

If peristalsis slows down, gas builds up in the intestine, most commonly in the large intestine and/or caecum. The gas stretches the intestine, causing discomfort and pain.

You will hear louder and gurglier than normal gut noises sometimes audible from a few metres!

don't take this type of colic lightly as the danger is that portions of the intestine that are filled with gas, can displace and wrap themselves around other parts of the gut causing the blood supply to be cut off. (Twisted gut)

Forage tests taken from pasture consumed by horses suffering repeated bouts of such colic revealed very high potassium:sodium ratios (for example 54, when it should be no higher than 5)
(Don’t delay with any colic)

Some diet changes may be necessary to prevent further bouts.

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