Colic is abdominal pain caused by a build up of gas in the abdomen, and is a veterinary emergency. In all cases, your vet should be called immediately.
Colic has three main forms. These are tympanitic colic, spasmodic colic and obstructive colic.
Tympanitic colic (bloat, gastric tympany, wind colic) presents as severe, continuous pain associated with sweating, a fast pulse, a tense abdomen, especially in the right flank, high pitched bowel sounds, attempts to lie down or roll, and anxiety.
The cause may be food material fermenting in stomach or large colon, and by large quantities of grain or coarse mix, or rich spring grazing.
Treatment consists of analgesia for pain control and anti-spasmotic drugs, while oral antibiotics and vegetable oils help reduce fermentation in the gut. Pressure of gas in the stomach can be relieved via a stomach tube. Recovery is usually complete.
Spasmodic colic is the commonest type of colic. It presents often in younger horses, with shorter episodes lasting a few hours. There is colicky (i.e. intermittent) abdominal pain, sweating, restlessness, a tense abdomen, loud bowel sounds, and the horse will try to roll. Rolling does no harm.
The cause is often migrating worm larvae, or a salt imbalance with a lack of sodium and chloride ions from dehydration.
Treatment is with antispasmodics and sedatives.
Obstructive Colic: This may be divided into the severe, acute obstruction and the less severe, less painful impaction.
Symptoms consist of shock due to the release of toxins, acute severe pain, high pulse rate, high temperature at times, constipation, poor appetite, lying down at times, and the horse may look at its flanks.
The cause is often overeating, especially dry material ‘ the worst is unsoaked dry foods that are supposed to be soaked. Sudden changes to diet, mechanical obstruction ‘ twisting of the gut, tumours, herniation ‘ and food impaction such as at the pelvic flexure are other causes.
Treatment often requires emergency surgery, liquid paraffin and saline by stomach tube, and rectal massage to break up a mass of food particles.
Complementary Therapies: Please note that colic is a veterinary emergency; always call your vet. Veterinary treatment may be supported and supplemented by: Bach flower remedies such as Rescue Remedy. Always helpful in emergencies is Spiritual healing and Reiki to help calm as well as Crystal healing, Massage and Acupressure.
Conclusion: Although you should call the vet out in all cases of colic, it is useful for us to be aware of the fact that not all colic is the rapidly progressive, often fatal obstructive colic. Always be guided by your vet in the management of colic. Try to prevent colic where possible, by ensuring that all soakable foods are adequately soaked with the water quantity and duration needed, and by making any dietary changes gradually over a few days. Supportive management while awaiting the vet will rarely cause harm.
About the Author: Dr Alison Grimston is a holistic doctor and animal healer specializing in connecting and informing animal therapists. Her natural animal therapy website informs the public about animal therapies while connecting animal therapists worldwide. http://www.TheNaturallyHealthyPet.com