What is colic?
Colic is a name given to describe abdominal pain. It is commonly used as a term for pain originating from the digestive tract, such as the large intestine in the horse. However colic may arise from disease or malfunction of other organs such as the kidneys or ovaries.
What to look for:
• Signs of distress, agitation
• Flank watching
• Attempting to lie down and roll
• Rapid respiratory rate
• Signs of trauma to body/head following a period of thrashing about
• Inappetance – the animal has failed to finish a recent feed or haynet
• A lack of faeces in the stable
What to do:
• Don’t panic!
• Phone the vet. We have 2 vets on call out of hours, 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. These calls are always given a high priority.
• Attempt to take the animal out and walk it round. Try to do this briskly. Movement stimulates gut motility and may allow the colic to pass.
It is best to prevent the horse from actively rolling, but do not take risks to do so.
A thorough clinical examination enables us to decide whether we are dealing with a medical (treatable with drugs, fluids) or surgical colic (needs surgery). An example of this would be a displaced colon or strangulated gut. We would immediately arrange an urgent referral to the nearest suitable surgical facility if appropriate, and prepare the horse for travel.