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Colic in Horses: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Colic in Horses: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

When your equine starts to act differently, you may be concerned something serious is going on. Equine colic is common in horses and is treatable if you know what to look for. Today our Gillette vets will explain equine colic, its causes, and how to prevent and treat it. 

About Colic in Horses

Colic is defined as any abdominal pain although horse owners typically refer to colic as problems with the gastrointestinal tract. The causes of colic are numerous, but generally, they are related to the anatomy and the microflora of the horse's gastrointestinal tract. 


Many things can contribute to colic in horses but the most common causes are: 

  • High grain-based diets/Low forage diets
  • Moldy/Tainted feed
  • An abrupt change in feed
  • Parasite infestation
  • Lack of water consumption leading to impaction colics
  • Sand ingestion
  • Long-term use of NSAIDs
  • Stress
  • Dental problems


When it comes to colic in horses there are signs you need to look out for. This can be serious for your horse so if you notice any of the symptoms contact our Gillette vets today.

Symptoms of colic include:

  • Pawing
  • Rolling
  • Bloating
  • Sweating
  • Distress
  • Uneasiness
  • Loss of interest in food and water
  • Peculiar postures (sitting, stretching)
  • Absence of gut sounds


There are ways to prevent colic in your equine. Once you know what is causing the colic, you can take steps to prevent it from happening again. A few things you can do are: 

  • Feed your horse on a regular schedule, and do not miss feeding even on the weekends
  • Do not make sudden changes to the horse's diet, if you must change your equine's diet, do it gradually
  • A clean fresh water supply should always be available
  • Keep all your equine supplies like feed boxes, hay racks, and feedstuffs clean and free of mold and dust
  • Check teeth regularly for dental problems that may cause chewing issues
  • Provide exercise regularly
  • Feed the appropriate amount of forage
  • Keep feed off the ground to avoid sand ingestion
  • Parasite control on your farm is very important to maintain


The severity of the signs of colic is not always the same as the severity of the colic, and it can be difficult to determine the exact cause and therefore the perfect treatment.

Because of this make sure to have your Red Hills Veterinary Hospital vets evaluate your horse as soon as possible.

Many cases of colic can be treated successfully with medication, while others involving severe impactions or twists may require immediate surgery.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If you are concerned that your horse may be experiencing the symptoms of colic or any other condition, please contact our Gillette vets today for a consultation.

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Red Hills Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Gillette companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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