How To Know if a Horse has Colic

Horses generally have a good disposition and are rather easygoing. However, if your horse has colic, you will notice some immediate changes. Just like humans, horses will exhibit physical symptoms as an indication that there is something wrong. As an owner, you must know what to look for so you can address the problem immediately. If colic is left untreated, it can cause the horse severe pain and there may be other underlying health issues that need to be treated.

Here’s how to know if a horse has colic.

  • Observe the disposition of the horse. Does the horse seem restless? Does it pace around or does it look apathetic to you? If your horse seems disoriented, wanders off or seems to be not himself, check to see what the problem is. 
  • Does the horse roll around on the ground? In an attempt to relieve itself of any discomfort, horses will roll on the ground. Usually, it will drop to the ground on its belly, shake around then get back up. For horses with colic, the horse may remain on the ground shaking violently. This is an indication that the horse is in pain. If your horse does this repeatedly, then that means the horse is not finding relief from the pain it is experiencing.  
  • Does the horse kick itself? If the horse kicks its abdomen, it could be because it is experiencing pain from colic. At the same time, is your horse sweaty even though you haven’t exercised it?  
  • Observe your horse’s food consumption. If your horse suddenly stops eating or has lost its appetite, this is a significant warning sign that there is something wrong. Loss of appetite is a symptom of many various illnesses, so be mindful.  
  • Check for any changes in bowel movement. If you notice that your horse has stopped defecating or there is a significant reduction in its bowel movement, there may be a problem.
  • Check the vital signs. If your horse has a fever or an elevated temperature, this is a warning sign that you must not ignore. A vet can check the pulse and the respiration rate. If the respiration rate of the horse is only at 8-16 a minute, it is depressed. If the pulse is higher than usual, between 27 and 43 beats per minutes, there is a problem. 
  • Have the vet check the horse. The sure way to determine what’s wrong with your horse is to contact the vet immediately. As an owner, you will have a pulse for your horse, so you will know if anything is out of the ordinary. Your vet will ask you about the horse’s recent behavior. He should also check the vital signs of the horse. The vet may also check if your horse has been dewormed, and ask to see its water and food containers.  

It can be quite distressing to see your animal in pain. If the vet finds that your horse is suffering from colic, he will need to rule out other causes to determine what caused the condition in the first place. Once it has been determined and your horse has been given the proper care, your horse should start feeling better in no time!


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