How To Listen to a Horse's Gut Sounds

Knowing how to listen to your horse's gut sounds is important, especially if he is prone to colic. If you can hear his gut sounds on a normal day, then you will be able to identify whether or not he has a blockage when he has colic. Many times this information can make all the difference, both in your veterinarian's diagnosis and in saving your horse's life.

  1. The first thing to do is to gather any instruments you need. In this case, you, your horse, and a stethoscope if you have one. Make sure that your horse is tied safely first. Also make sure that there is not going to be too many distractions for your horse. You're going to be pressing up against him pretty close, and you don't want to get stepped on.
  2. Next, go to his left side and locate his ribs. Find where his ribs end and place your ear next to his body. Make sure to press it close or you won't be able to hear anything. What you should hear, especially if your horse has just eaten, is gurgling. This is what a healthy gut sounds like. Move slowly backwards on his belly, listening until you hear gut sounds. Stop before you reach his flanks. Be careful, some horses find these spots ticklish and may try and kick.
  3. Now that you have listened to one side, go around your horse and repeat the procedure on the right side, listening carefully for any gurgling gut sounds. If you cannot hear anything using just your ear pressed against his side, use the stethoscope pressed against the same areas.
  4. Don't worry if you can't hear any sounds right away, you may need to move up or down or back before you can clearly hear the gut sounds. Keep practicing until you and your horse are comfortable with you listening to his tummy gurgle.

Knowing what normal sounds like to your horse is extremely important in colic cases. Colic kills more horses each year than any other disease. If your horse is acting oddly and is biting or kicking at his belly, try and gauge his gut sounds. If it sounds blocked, as in no sounds whatsoever, call your veterinarian immediately. Acting quickly on colic cases can save your horse's life by preventing surgery. Listening to your horse's gut sounds is a simple thing, but can make a major difference in both your lives.


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