"There are different treatment options for horses suffering from colic, but this is an illness in which course and treatment can really vary on a case-by-case basis."
Equine colic is a relatively common disorder of the digestive system. Although the term colic, in the true definition of the word, simply means “abdominal pain,” the term in horses refers to a condition of severe abdominal discomfort characterized by pawing, rolling, and sometimes the inability to defecate.
There are a handful of different types of colic, depending on the cause of the condition. There is also a spectrum of severity in this condition; oftentimes a horse may have a mild bout of abdominal pain that resolves with a single dose of medication whereas other times, surgery and unfortunately euthanasia may be warranted. For this reason, all colic should be treated as an emergency.
There are different treatment options for horses suffering from colic, but this is an illness in which course and treatment can really vary on a case-by-case basis.
Major types of colic- Horse Colic -Impaction colic
This is the term used when the intestine becomes blocked by a firm mass of food. Impactions most commonly occur in the large intestine at one of the flexures. This is a fairly common type of colic which usually resolves relatively easily with appropriate treatment. However, an impaction may be just the first obvious sign in a more complicated case.
Sometimes gas builds up in the intestine, most commonly in the large intestine and/or caecum. The gas stretches the intestine, causing pain. Gas colics usually resolve fairly easily with appropriate treatment, although it is essential to ensure that there is no underlying reason for the problem.
Some cases of colic are due to increased intestinal contractions, the abnormal spasms causing the intestines to contract painfully. These cases usually respond fairly well.
Displacement/volvulus/torsion ('twisted gut")
In a "displacement", a portion of the intestine has moved to an abnormal position in the abdomen. A "volvulvus" or "torsion" occurs when a piece of the intestine twists. The suspension of the small intestine from the mesentery (the "net curtain") and the unfixed nature of much of the large intestine predispose horses to intestinal displacements and torsions. Except in rare cases, these types of colic cause a total blockage of the intestine and require immediate surgery if the horse is to survive. In the early stages of a displacement/torsion colic, the signs may be similar to those of a horse with one of the more benign causes of colic. That is why it is important to take all cases of colic seriously, and to seek veterinary advice at an early stage.