Saturday, January 16, 2010

Colic

Colic, a dreaded word among horse owners.

Anyone who has ever delt with colic knows how stressful it is to deal with and how almost painful it is to watch.
Thurday night (so two days ago) our horse Quartermaine had colic.

What is colic? Well, it's like a very VERY painful stomach ache. But it can be worse. Colic, can be deadly, especially if the horse rolls and twists the intestines. Here is an artical taken from ultimatehorsesite.com;

Colic: A term used to describe a large range of abdominal discomforts, colic can be anything from a twisted intestine to an enterolith to worm infestations. Colic is the #1 natural killer of horses.
Common Causes
Colic can be caused by many things. Here are some common causes:

-Sand Colic: When horses ingest sand. Horses that are fed on sandy ground or have access to it may eat small bits of sand. Over time, the sand will build up in the intestines and eventually cause discomfort. The horse may be carrying 30-80 pounds before showing signs of colic.
-Over feeding: If a horse breaks into the feed area and gorges itself colic could result.
-Parasitism: Worm infestations disrupt circulation in the intestines, or blood clots and bits of dead worms may cause blockages.
-Irregular Feed Schedule: This may cause a horse to wolf feed if he gets really hungry. Feeding right after work or if horse is still hot also can cause horse to come down with colic.
-Sudden Changes in Feed: When you change feeds, or introduce new feed, be sure you do so slowly!
-Bad Feed: Moldy or rotten feed may cause colic.
-Ingestion of Non-feed materials: Stones, sticks, twine, and wood splinters are examples. Cribbers or horses that chew wood have a risk of swallowing bits and getting colic.
-Fine Grain: Sometimes it will pack together and cause blockages in the intestine.
-Poisons: Some poisons may cause colic. Moldy feed may cause mold poisoning and colic.
-Twisted Intestines: Very severe and life-threatening. There are different types of twists in different areas, and they each have names. Here are a few:
-Strangulation: When parts of intestine become entangled in tears in the supportive membrane.
-Incarceration: Intestine is caught in inguinal ring of male horses, and blood supply is cut off by twisting.
-Intussusception: One part of the intestine falls into the other. More common in foals than older horses.


Most colics can be classified as one of these 3 types:
-Intestinal Dysfunction
The horse's digestive tract is not working properly. Impaction, paralysis, and excessive gas are examples. This type is the most common.
-Intestinal Accidents
This is where the intestines are injured or torn, and are less common than the type mentioned above, but usually require emergency surgery.
-Enteritis or Ulcerations
This is a colic caused by infections, inflammations, and disease in the intestine, which can be caused by many factors, such as parasites and stress.


What caused Quartermaines colic? We don't know, all we know is that we went out to do chorse (we trimmed the goats hooves which can be tiering) and Quartermaine was laying down....not a good thing, because they want to roll....here is more from ultimatehorsesite.com

The first signs you may see are uneasiness and a personality change. The horse may be uninterested in food or drink, and may act sleepy or dull. The temperature may be slightly higher than normal, but the respiration and pulse will usually be normal. Later on, the horse may swish its tail, stomp a hind leg, turn and look at belly, or nip its sides. It may also roll its eyes, snort, or groan. As the pain increases, the horse may kick its belly and lie on the ground and stretch. It may also stretch as if to urinate, or may make attempts to defecate with no success or may have diarrhea. It may roll lightly, get up and walk in circles, then lie down and roll again. It may also walk aimlessly into fences or walls. As the colic worsens, the horse may bite its sides, kick and thrash, and may roll madly. NEVER let a colicking horse roll, because it could twist an intestine and cause serious injury! Try to get the horse up, even if it means yelling at or hitting the horse. Be VERY CAREFUL- a colicing horse in severe pain doesn't care what or who you are, it may step on you or crush you accidentally. During this time, the horse's only focus is trying to rid itself of pain, and it won't be aware of its surroundings. It may walk into walls or fences or step on things. You should catch it and, if it is rolling, make it stand; then, proceed to walk it for about 15 minutes.

Symptoms of colic include...

Rolling excessively (He wanted to roll so bad, but we kept him from laying down.)
Sweating
Pawing (check for Quartermaine)
Kicking at belly (check for Quartermaine)
Looking at or biting belly (check for Quartermaine)
Change in attitude, or depression (He acted depressed)
Lack of appetite (It was feeding time & we had hay out, he TRIED to eat but gave up)
Unable to defecate
Little or no gut sounds
Sitting like a dog or lying down (lying down)
Stretching out as if to urinate (He REALLY stretched out, REALLY STRETCHED!!)
Restlessness, or lying down, getting up, lying down again, etc. (Check)


Poor Quartermaine wanted to lay down so bad! At twice he laid down we let him just lay there (he was so tierd) but when he started to try to roll we had to get him up....wow, that's hard. We had to stretch out his front legs, pull on his halter, and yell and smack the ground behind him; And it still took some effort to get him up. We kept him walking for a little bit, most of the time we just stood there. We allowed him to lay down to rest a bit (got him up when he wanted to roll...at one point it was like the worse of the episode, all his muscles tightened...just...like mad, hot and high...we weren't sure how he was going to act all we knew is we neededroom in case he was going to freak out..thankfull it was a nice night (like 30's)...all he did was pooped (thankfully), which after he seemed a little better...

Heres the rest of the artical for ultimatehorsesite.com
If you suspect your horse has colic, record all the symptoms it is showing, take the horse's vital signs, then call the vet immediately and tell him what you've observed. Return to the horse, walk him for about 15 minutes, then release him in a safe area and watch his behavior. A simple colic can quickly turn deadly without prompt attention. If you horse is already rolling on the ground, thrashing, and sweating, get him up as soon as possible! A horse that is rolling may twist an intestine or complicate an otherwise minor colic. Remember, a colicing horse may be dangerous to be around since it is in pain. Move carefully and be aware when with one. You may have to pull on or even hit the horse to get it go rise, but even if you have to, it's better to do it than to let your horse roll and complicate his colic. If you cannot get the horse up and it is pounding its head against the ground, get a pillow, blanket, or other soft material and carefully place it under the animal's head.
If the weather is extreme, provide shelter for the horse by putting him in a safe stall or barn, and if that is not available, a garage or shed may work. If there is anyway for the horse to harm himself, do not turn him loose, but have someone hold him. Keep all food and water away from the horse until the vet arrives. Try to keep the horse as calm as possible, and keep it from rolling if possible. You may want to walk the horse for a few minutes, then let the horse stand or lie relaxed.
DO NOT CONTINUE TO WALK THE HORSE. Many people will walk a horse for hours, until it is weak and exhausted. Walking can do a bit of good, but over-walking can weaken the horse and even lead to death if the colic turns severe. If the horse isn't feeling better after 15 minutes of walking, then 3 more hours won't make a difference, either. Most likely, if a little walking doesn't help, the horse will require surgery, and if it's been over-walked, it is less likely to live through the surgery and fully recover. If you do walk the horse too much, it's nervous system may shut down, creating more problems. There are many people that will walk a horse for hours, even all night long, thinking that it will do some good. It won't.


Colic is not fun. We stayed outside for 5 1/2 hours....makeing sure he didn't roll....

But good news, he's fine now!!!!

Gabrielle W.

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