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With 72 feet of digestive tract, a hungry stomach, and a curious spirit, horses have a way of getting into trouble in regard to what they eat. This combination can unfortunately lead to very dangerous situations for our horses. The following list does not serve as exhaustive, but rather a list of common equine colic types and causes.
This is the most likely equine colic type you might encounter with your horse if he grazes heavily on pasture grasses. When we talk about sand impaction, we’re also referring to dirt. Both organic materials build up into a mass that can cause an obstruction in a horse’s digestive tract. When ingested, sand or dirt accumulate in the pelvic flexure, right dorsal colon, and the caecum of the large intestines. As the sand or dirt irritates the lining of the bowel, it can cause diarrhea. The weight and abrasion of the sand or dirt causes the bowel wall to become inflamed, and can cause a reduction in intestinal motility, and in severe cases even peritonitis. This is easier to understand when we consider the eroding qualities of sand. It can cause severe damage to a horse’s sensitive digestive tract. Horses should not be fed from the ground in areas where sand, dirt, or silt are prevalent. Coliclenz Plus Pellets are very effective in treating and preventing this type of sand impaction colic.
An enterolith is a round ball of mineral deposits. It is often formed around a piece of ingested foreign material, such as sand or gravel. When an enterolith moves from its original site, it can lead to an obstruction of the intestine. They are not a common horse colic type, but are known to be more typical in states with a sandy soil and where an abundance of alfalfa hay is fed, such as California. Once a horse is diagnosed with colic due to enterolith, surgery is usually required to remedy the situation. Using ColiClenz Plus Pellets on 10-week intervals can help prevent this type of horse colic.
Pelvic flexure impaction in horses is caused by an impaction of food materials such as grass, hay, or grain at a part of the large bowel known as the pelvic flexure of the left colon. This is where the intestine takes a 180-degree turn and narrows in diameter. Pelvic flexure impaction generally responds well to medical treatment. However, more severe cases may require surgery. If left untreated, severe impaction horse colic can be fatal. The most common cause of pelvic flexure impaction is when the horse is on box stall rest and/or consumes large volumes of straw, or the horse has dental disease and is unable to chew properly.
Occasionally there can be an obstruction in a horse’s digestive tract caused by a significant number of roundworms. This is most commonly seen in young horses. It is a result of an unusually heavy parasite infestation causing a blockage and rupture of the small intestine. Deworming heavily infected horses may cause dead worms to puncture the intestinal wall and cause a fatal peritonitis. If a heavy worm infestation is suspected, it is often the result of a poor deworming program. Horses develop immunity to parascaris between six months age and one year, and so this condition is rare in adult horses. Using ColiClenz Plus Pellets on 10-week intervals can help prevent this cause of horse colic.
Horse colic can occur when a horse’s left dorsal colon becomes trapped above the spleen.
Right dorsal displacement is a tricky horse colic type, as symptoms may be more difficult to detect, but surgery is usually the only available treatment.
Various parts of the horse's gastrointestinal tract may twist upon themselves. If this occurs, it is most likely to be either the small intestine or part of the colon. This cause of horse colic is dramatic and urgent, as occlusion of the blood supply causes a painful condition exhibited by rapid deterioration, requiring emergency surgery.
Intussusception is a form of equine colic in which a piece of intestine "telescopes" within a portion of itself. This most commonly takes place in the small intestine of young horses and requires urgent surgery.
Spasmodic colic is the result of increased peristaltic contractions in the horse's gastrointestinal tract. This can be the result of a mild gas buildup within the horse's digestive tract. The signs of this horse colic are generally mild and respond well to spasmolytic and analgesic medication.
A common occurrence in horses can be the formation of ulcers in the stomach. Risk factors include confinement, infrequent feedings, a high proportion of concentrate feeds, excessive non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drug use, and the stress of shipping and showing. Most ulcers are treatable with medications which inhibit the acid-producing cells of the stomach. Antacids are less effective in horses than in humans, because horses produce stomach acid almost constantly, while humans produce acid mainly while eating. Dietary management is critical. Bleeding ulcers leading to stomach rupture are rare. Using Coliclenz Plus Pellets can help treat this type of colic.
Other causes may show clinical symptoms of colic in horses. Strictly speaking, colic refers only to signs originating from the gastrointestinal tract of the horse. Signs of equine colic may be caused by problems other than the GI-tract.
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