Colic In Equine: Causes And Prevention

2073 words - 9 pages

In Equine, surprisingly Colic is severely life threatening, we as humans have colic as well but it is not nearly as life threatening as it is in horses. Horses diets have vastly changed as everything evolves, this being a horses intestines haven’t completely evolved to satisfy these changes being so horses are now at risk of colic since horses can’t vomit to get rid of toxins or indigestible food. As babies we can colic but it’s a fancy way of having abdominal pain, but in horses it can be anywhere from a simple upset stomach or a twisted gut, which can stop the blood supply and will kill the horse. The definition of colic is as follows; “Colic is defined as any abdominal pain although horse owners typically refer to colic as problems with the gastro-intestinal tract.” Colic is the number one cause of death in horses, even though colic refers to the horse’s pain in their abdomen, colic episodes generally mean a horse’s condition in their colon. Treating colic can become very costly, "It's quite variable, but colic surgeries can range anywhere from $5,000-$20,000, depending on the region where the surgery is being performed and the complexity of the surgery," says Michael N. Fugaro, VMD, Dipl. ACVS, an associate professor of Equine Studies at Centenary College and an adjunct professor of Animal Science at Rutgers University, both in New Jersey. "Even a medical colic involving going into the clinic and being on IV fluids for a couple of days can easily cost $5,000."
Before we talk about colic, we must know where colicing takes place in a horse’s digestive system. The hindgut is part of the equine gastrointestinal tract, which is made up of two components the foregut and hindgut. Colic takes place in the hindgut, even though the role the foregut digestion plays is a huge part it isn’t our focused of the cause of colic. The hindgut consists of the cecum, which is where microbes exist and do their job of breaking down the fiber that the horse consumes. The large colon with a length of 10-12 feet and a capacity of close to 14 quarts is where the food continues to be digested and fermented. Lastly, the rectum is apart of the hindgut, this is important when examining colic because you can get to about 40% of a horse’s abdominal cavity, which is the first place a professional will want to examine when seeing a colicky horse. Focusing more on the hindgut where most of a horse’s digestion takes place through a process called fermentation with help from tons of microbes that are present. This process of fermentation takes a lot of water to keep the digestion on tract. The colon must absorb 20-30% of the horse’s body weight in water per day, so for a 1,000 lbs horse it must take in 25-35 gallons of water, which is one of the first steps in preventing colic.
Common situations for colic are known to be idiopathic or “unknown”, in other words we don’t exactly know what causes a horse to colic in most circumstances. When horses’ colic it has a lot to do with...

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