July 9th, 2010 Leave a commentSign Up Go to comments

Horse Colic – A Violent Killer

Horse colic is recognized as the number one killer of horses next to old age.

Contrary to popular opinion, horse colic is not a disease within itself, but classified more so as a syndrome where the symptoms and presence of abdominal pain common to horse colic point to the possible presence of disease or injury.

In recent studies by the United States Department of Agriculture, it was discovered that amongst the various breeds of horses Thoroughbreds showed the highest occurrence of colic with a rate of 10.9 percent. Stock horse breeds such as Quarter horses, Paints and Appaloosas experience horse colic at a rate of 3.5 percent, and all other breeds showing a rate of horse colic occurrences at 2.9 percent.

Every horse owner should be skilled at recognizing the signs of horse colic. Colic in horses can be seen when a horse is abnormally turning its head as if to look at its flank area. Additional signs of colic in horses includes abnormal pawing at the ground; kicking or biting the belly area; stretching out its stance in the same manner a stallion or gelding will when urinating; restlessness revealing itself in the form of the horse wanting to get up or lay down; abnormal desire to roll and often with the presence of grunting; sitting in a dog-like position; loss of interest in food; putting its head down in the same manner it does when drinking water; abnormal lack of feces in the pen indicating the lack of bowel movements; sweating; rapid breathing; elevated pulse of 60 beats per minute or more; indications of depressed moods; and abnormal lip curling not triggered by sexual stimulation.

If a horse owner, or horse handler, suspects a horse may be showing signs of horse colic, several tidbits of information should be written down before calling a Veterinarian. Notes should be made of the heart rate of the horse; the respiratory rate (how many breaths per minute); the temperature of the horse as taken at the rectum; the color of the gums (are the gums white, pale pink, dark pink, red, or looking more like a reddish to blue to purple hue); moisture of the gums (moist, tacky, or dry); capillary refill time(press on the gums and count the seconds it takes for the gum color to return to normal); sounds coming from the abdominal area, or passing of gas out of the rectum; last approximate bowel movement and consistency; last deworming and for what kind of worms; pregnancy status; medical history; and finally any recent changes in feeding or exercise regimes.

While waiting for a veterinarian to attend the animal, a horse owner, or horse handler can take some steps to improve the safety of the animal and those other animals as well as people around it. Horse colic in acute state can cause an animal to thrash around uncontrollably so it’s imperative the animal be placed in a small pen where it has room to move around, but not in a box stall where by rolling it could cast itself against a wall. All food sources should be removed from the animal as much as is possible. Allow the horse to rest if it appears to want to rest. When the horse appears to want to lay down or roll excessively, try to lead the horse around keeping it on its feet as long as possible ( a horse with an impacted bowel can complicate matters by rolling in such a manner so as to cause the intestine to literally flip over on itself causing a twisted gut scenario). Finally, if you are not the owner of the horse, make every attempt to reach the owner to obtain authorization for treatment and to seek direction from the owner as to their wishes pertaining to maximum expenditure on the horse.

Horse colic surgery is expensive. In 1998, $115 million dollars was spent providing horse colic surgery in the United States alone. Horse owners must be prepared to make tough choices as to whether the horse’s value warrants such a course of treatment. Irregardless of treatment, 10 to 11 percent of all horses who are afflicted by colic will die from it.

Horse colic cannot be over looked or ignored. If a horse owner is not familiar with this syndrome, then the presence of a Veterinarian is all the more imperative. A responsible horse owner must learn in time to recognize the normal and abnormal behaviors of their horse. Colic in horses can often be prevented through proper horse management. Horse colic should never be ignored or the significance of the symptoms minimized.

James C. Tanner of http://www.jamesctanner.com and http://www.horse-colic.net is a writer, speaker and avid horseman. He is formally educated in the fields of ranch management, livestock production, horsemanship, and animal sciences.

Copyright 2010 James C. Tanner. All rights reserved.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=James_C._Tanner

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