Our vets have seen many colic cases recently so we have put together a few pointers to help you avoid a colicky horse or pony.
Care needs to be taken in sandy soil areas, a supplement of Psyllium Husks can be useful to help move things through the digestion process. We use a product called Sand Out.
Keep the worming regime up to date by using a paste every three months, which must include an agent to kill tape worms (Praziquantel) in the spring and autumn. Good worm control is important in helping to prevent bouts of colic and illness such as weight loss. Faecal egg counts (FEC) are important in guiding owners and vets to whether a horse needs to be wormed and can also highlight if there are likely to be resistant worms on your pasture. It is now known only a small population of horses (20%) carry 80% of the worms, so your horse may be one of the 80% who doesn’t have a high worm burden. We would still recommend worming against tapeworm in the spring and autumn; a saliva test is available again to see if your horse is carrying tapeworms. We would also recommend using a broad spectrum wormer in the winter to treat for encysted redworms. FEC can be carried out at the practice by one of our team and we are happy to help with setting up a worming protocol for individual horses or yards.
Ensuring good dental care is also important in preventing horses from getting colic particularly in the winter months. It is important that horses can chew their forage into smaller fibres so that it can pass through their gastrointestinal system effectively without getting stuck which can lead to impaction colics. Look out for your horse dropping food over the stable door, ongoing nasal discharges or not eating as much as normal as these can be signs of dental disease.
Make sure any changes to management are done slowly in order to help your horses gastrointestinal system adjust. Always ensure free access to clean water including in the winter.
Oil (sunflower or corn) is a good calorie booster for feeds in the cold weather.
During prolonged cold or frosty weather ensure an adequate water supply is provided. It’s a good idea to add more water to feeds – warm mashes for example – or wetted but not frozen hay.
Low water intake pre-disposes horses to impaction colics, which is also more likely to happen in situations where horses are kept stabled (a lack of mobility slows the gut down) and the eating of straw, which is of little nutritional value.
If you think your horse or pony is suffering from colic, please call the surgery, as we are happy to help. Swift action is the best way forward while waiting for a vet to arrive so try to keep the animal walking to avoid them lying down or rolling.
Please contact the surgery for further advice.