Reprint of post by Dr. Jeanette Mero, DVM
It’s colic time! It’s been a crazy few days with up to 5 colics in a day. And the streak does not seem to be letting up yet. My patients. . . . have been rolling, pawing, not eating, looking at their flanks, sweating, breathing fast and many have had diarrhea.
Most have had sand colic, a few just gassy bellies. Sand problems start to pile up (literally with increasing amounts of sand getting layered into the intestines) as the long dry season continues.
Sand colics are pretty easy to prevent, thankfully. Feed horses off the ground, using feeders and mats if needed. Feed lots of hay to keep your horse from snuffling around in the dirt out of hunger or boredom. Hay is also great at grabbing sand and helping to remove it from the gut. Provide lots of exercise and turnout to keep gut motility up. Make sure your horse’s teeth are in good shape, as dental problems and sand colic often go together. Feed preventive doses of psyllium pellets one week out of every month during the dry season.
Diarrhea in an otherwise normal horse is often the first sign trouble is brewing. Once your horse starts down the road with full blown colic and abdominal pain, action is needed. Treatment for sand colic runs the spectrum from just needing some pain medications and increasing the amount of psyllium pellets into a treatment plan, to on site treatment by your veterinarian with IV medications, nasogastric tubings with psyllium and Epsom salts, mineral oil or DSS, and possibly even IV fluids. Some horses have to be tubed several days in a row to really get a good clean out effect.
I once had a mare that I treated for almost a week and in total she passed nearly a 50 pound bag of sand. Finally some horses will need surgery to remove the huge volume of sand in their intestines. And sadly some will die due to severe impactions and toxemia caused by the sand. Prevention is without a doubt the best option.
Dr. Jeanette Mero DVM