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10 Tips for Preventing Colic

 

           The number one killer of horses is colic.  Colic is not a disease, but rather a combination of signs that alert us to abdominal pain in the horse.  Colic can range from mild to severe, but it should never be ignored.  Many of the conditions that cause colic can become life threatening in a relatively short period of time.  Only by quickly and accurately recognizing colic – and seeking qualified veterinary help – can the chance for recovery be maximized.

            While horses seem predisposed to colic due to the anatomy and function of their digestive tracts, management can play a key role in prevention.  Although not every case is avoidable, the following guidelines from the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) can maximize the horse’s health and reduce the risk of colic:

 

1. Establish a daily routine – include feeding and exercise schedules – and stick to it.

 

2. Feed a high quality diet comprised primarily of roughage.

 

3. Avoid feeding excessive grain and energy-dense supplements. (At least half the horse’s energy should be supplied through hay or forage.  A better guide is that twice as much energy should be supplied from a roughage source than from concentrates.)

 

4. Divide daily concentrate rations into two or more smaller feedings rather than one large one to avoid overloading the horse’s digestive tract.

 

5. Hay is best fed free-choice.

 

6. Set up a regular parasite control program with the help of your equine practitioner.

 

7. Provide exercise and/or turnout on a daily basis.  Change the intensity and duration of an exercise regimen gradually.

 

8. Provide fresh, clean water at all times. (The only exception is when the horse is excessively hot, and then it should be given small sips of luke-warm water until it has recovered.)

 

9. Avoid putting feed on the ground, especially in sandy soils.

Check hay, bedding, pasture, and environment for potentially toxic substances, such as blister beetles, noxious weeds, and other ingestible foreign matter.

 

10. Reduce stress.  Horses experiencing changes in environment or workloads are at high risk of intestinal dysfunction.  Pay special attention to horses when transporting them or changing their surroundings, such as at shows.

 

Virtually any horse is susceptible to colic.  Age, sex, and breed differences in susceptibility seem to be relatively minor.  The type of colic seen appears to relate to geographic or regional differences, probably due to environmental factors such as sandy soil or climatic stress.  Importantly, what this tells us is that, with conscientious care and management, we have the potential to reduce and control colic, the number one killer of horses.

 

For more information about colic prevention and treatment, ask your equine veterinarian for the “Colic” brochure, provided by the American Association of Equine Practitioners in partnership with Educational Partner Bayer Animal Health.  Additional colic information is available by visiting the AAEP’s horse health web site, www.myHorseMatters.com.

 

Reprinted with permission from the American Association of Equine Practitioners.

Wage War on Equine Parasites

 

Internal parasites are silent killers.  They can cause extensive internal damage, and you may not even realize your horses are heavily infected.  At the very least, parasites can lower resistance, rob the horse of valuable nutrients, and cause gastrointestinal irritation and unthriftiness.  At their worst, they can lead to colic, intestinal ruptures, and death.

            Using deworming agents on a regular schedule in combination with good management procedures is critical to relieving your horse of most parasites. Since parasites are primarily transferred through manure, good management is key.  In terms of management priorities, establishing a parasite control program is probably second only to supplying the horse with clean, plentiful water and high quality feed.

            To get rid of parasites before they attack your horse, follow these suggestions from the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP):

1. Pick up and dispose of manure droppings in the pasture at least twice weekly.

 

2. Mow and harrow pastures regularly to break up manure piles and expose parasite eggs and larvae to the elements.

 

3. Rotate pastures by allowing other livestock, such as sheep or cattle, to graze them, thereby interrupting the life cycles of parasites.

 

4. Group horses by age to reduce exposure to certain parasites and maximize the deworming program geared to that group.

 

5. Keep the number of horses per acre to a minimum to prevent overgrazing and reduce the fecal contamination per acre.

 

6. Use a feeder for hay and grain rather than feeding on the ground.

 

7. Remove bot eggs quickly and regularly from the horse’s haircoat to prevent ingestion.

 

8. Rotate deworming agents, not just brand names, to prevent chemical resistance.

 

9. Consult your veterinarian to set up an effective and regular deworming schedule.

 

With the many safe, convenient products available today, establishing an effective deworming program is easy.  Discuss a plan with your veterinarian and implement it without delay.  A good parasite control program will go a long way toward maximizing your horse’s appearance, performance and comfort.  The net result will be an animal that is as healthy on the inside as it appears on the outside.

For more information about waging war on equine parasites, ask your veterinarian for a copy of the “Parasite Control” client education brochure, provided by the AAEP in partnership with Educational Partner Bayer Animal Health.  Information about equine parasites also can be found on www.myHorseMatters.com, the AAEP’s horse health Web site.

 

Reprinted with permission from the American Association of Equine Practitioners.

Strain Equine Services, LLC

17041 158th Street

Basehor, KS 66012

 

Phone: (913)728-2499

Fax: (913)728-2232

E-Mail: strainequine@att.net