inappetence, lethargy, elevated heart rate, restlessness, and
scant or no manure production.
One of the most common causes of impaction colic is dehydration. For example, during a cold winter, a horse may be
less inclined to drink water, or water troughs may freeze and
prevent drinking. This dries out the food traveling through the
digestive tract, and occasionally a blockage occurs.
This becomes compounded when a horse with a small
impaction starts to feel sick and subsequently doesn’t drink, further exacerbating
the situation. Soon, a large amount of dry, hard manure becomes unmovable in
DIAGNOSIS: There is a common place impactions tend to occur: It’s called
the pelvic flexure, and it’s a hairpin turn in the horse’s colon. The pelvic flexure
is a normal piece of equine intestinal anatomy, but is a prime spot for something
to get stuck. Fortunately, this piece of colon is easily palpated by a veterinarian,
which leads to speedy diagnosis and treatment.
TREATMENT: The primary goal of impaction colic treatment is rehydration,
which is the only way to move the blockage besides surgery. Depending on the
extent of dehydration, your veterinarian may administer intravenous (IV) fluids
and oral fluid via a nasogastric tube.
Usually mineral oil is also administered, which aids in the lubrication of the
intestinal tract, and sometimes Epsom salts are given. These salts pull fluid into
the intestine to further help lubricate the way to recovery.
Most importantly as the horse owner, your job is to watch for the passing of manure.
The best sign that things are getting back to normal is oily manure within 12 to 24
hours of mineral oil administration. This means what has gone in has finally come out.
stones that form
in the intestine,
usually as a result
of diets high in
protein or magnesium.