Colic causes and diagnosis

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Colic causes and diagnosis

This is a discussion on Colic causes and diagnosis within the Horse Health forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Horses category

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    09-05-2011, 03:02 PM
Colic causes and diagnosis

Since they don't actually gut a horse during a necropsy, how could a vet say definitively that a horse has a twisted intestine? A blockage they can find through a rectal examination, but a twist has to be discovered via x-rays.
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    09-05-2011, 03:31 PM
Originally Posted by Speed Racer    
Since they don't actually gut a horse during a necropsy, how could your vet have said definitively it was a twisted intestine?
Who doesn't? The only way to determine the cause of death is to inspect the horse from inside to out. If the cause of death cannot be determined otherwise, the entire intestinal tract would be open and inspected not just on the outside, but on the inside. We call it "running the gut". You can count parasites if you want to. It is not a complete necropsy if a total diagnosis is not made.
    09-05-2011, 03:49 PM
Originally Posted by Celeste    
We call it "running the gut".
Interesting. How many field necropsies have you done?

Unless the horse has a ruptured stomach, which in itself takes hours to kill them, I can't see an animal dropping dead within an hour of presenting colic symptoms.

A brain hemorrhage will take them off quickly, but it won't present as colic. In fact, I can't think of anything that will present as colic that will kill them within an hour. Please enlighten me if I'm incorrect.
    09-05-2011, 03:53 PM
Originally Posted by Speed Racer    
Interesting. How many field necropsies have you done?

I have done a lot of them. More in house ones though. Same difference.

I am a state licensed, federally accredited veterinarian. I spent about 25 years in practice; now I teach in a small college.
    09-05-2011, 03:56 PM
When we do necropsies at my clinic, we take out all the intestines, heart, lungs, liver, etc. Quite messy, but we explore everything. If her vet did this, it would be very easy to see the twist in the intestines.
That being said, I have a feeling this horse had some issues for a few days and maybe was not noticed. I have had two friends lose horses to twisted guts .One was up in a hunting camp with no vet around and the horse started acting colicky the day before, we walked for hours and when he did poop a bit we hoped it was over. About 6 hours later, he was in horrible pain and since there was no vet around and the horse was throwing himself over backwards from the pain, the owner shot him and we cut him open. It was a twisted gut, from both sides of the twist, the intestines were black and dead and you could see where the rupture occured. We figured, and later talking to the vet was told that when he acted better was when it ruptured, the release from the painful stomach was sudden and fast. BUT, the stomach contents then caused him to become septic and get painful, even worse pain than before and that is when he started throwing himself. This happened in less than 24 hours from beginning to end.
The other was a mare, she started acting colicky and rolling and the owner got her to the vets. We tried everything we could to save her, but she got down, would not get up and started thrashing and died. Because the baby was close to term, the owner opted for us to open the mare up and try to save the baby. This was all done in the horse trailer, we got the baby out and the baby lived for two days, but was just not ready enough. The mare's intestine had twisted and there was nothing to do, she just died.
That is my worst nightmare, a horse twisting a gut and being in agony before dying.
    09-05-2011, 04:01 PM
I had a friend who lost her prized, beloved stallion to a ruptured stomach, so I know how long he was in agony and what the vets tried to do before they discovered the rupture.

He was trailered to Blue Ridge Equine, where the rupture was diagnosed. He was put down immediately once they found out the cause, but he suffered for many hours beforehand.

His owner was devastated and inconsolable.
    09-05-2011, 05:29 PM
Green Broke
It is a sad day to lose a horse to colic. My horse Red had a case of colic from standing there Christmas day stuffing himself with hay and not drinking because the water was cold. I caught it in time and hauled him to the vet. It was an impaction and he passed a little tiny bit of manure in the trailer but it was hours before he passed a little more and two days before he had a good bowel movement. was not fun and the vet bill wasn't either.
    09-05-2011, 05:32 PM
I keep heaters in my water in the winter and I live in Georgia. I had several mild colics before I did this. They do not like cold water.
    09-05-2011, 10:30 PM
Originally Posted by Celeste    
I keep heaters in my water in the winter and I live in Georgia. I had several mild colics before I did this. They do not like cold water.
Sorry, but I don't buy that at all. No animal, horses included, has evolved to require artificially heated water to survive. The vast majority of colics are caused directly or indirectly by man induced variables. Even colics caused by such naturally occuring variables as weather changes are often indirectly caused by man by clipping, poor feed, insufficient water, blanketing, and poor facilities. That is not to say horses never colic from natural causes, but as I said - horses did not evolve requiring man to heat their water...
    09-05-2011, 10:41 PM
If horses don't drink adequately, then they are prone to colic, especially if they are living on hay. Half frozen water is not fun to drink.

Feeding hay is artificial. Feeding grain is artificial.

Since I prefer to feed my horses hay in the winter, then they need to drink well.

I do have one very large winter pasture with running streams. I don't use the heated water for the horses on that field because they get minimum amounts of hay.

Actually modern horses did not naturally evolve. They are the result of artificial selection by man.

You do what you think is best. If my horses are forced to drink out of an artificial source, I won't let it freeze. I had some colic problems in the winter before I developed this attitude; now I do not.

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