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Endiku 06-21-2011 04:34 PM

strange colic breakout -- really wearing us down.
Three weeks ago one of our yearling fillies went down with a severe case of colic. We called a vet out immediately, recognizing that it wasn't a 'treat it yourself' type of colic, and after a thorough examination we were told that she had already twisted an intestine, and that it was severe enough that she had a less than 20% chance of surviving surgery to correct it. After talking, we decided to put her down. We had thought it was an isolated case, but three days later, our nursing mare Sassy (our mule's mother) coliced. Her colic didn't seem as bad, but we called the vet anyways- not wanting to take a chance. The vet treated her, rigged up an IV, and told us to walk her all night- and thats what we did. From 3 pm to 8 am the next morning, we walked her up and down the pasture. Still she hadn't urinated or pooped, and she seemed to be in more pain than before. So at 12 we called the vet again. This time the vet did a scope and found a blockage of some sort still stuck. She was able to dislodge it and we hoped that it would pass and everything would be fine. Not so.

We left for an hour to go get food, and when we came back- we found her lying down, dead. Devestated, we immediately decided to have both our water and our feed tested. The tests came back fine though. Next we tested the hay. It was fine. We were, and in some ways still are, baffled. We keep our minis on a dry lot to prevent founder and only let them graze for thirty minutes every two days, and there are no strange plants or such in either the pasture or the lot.

Then we started to think. In our area, we have been going through a nasty drought. We have had only one 5 minute shower (last night) since January 3rd, and all of our grass has died. We have worked diligently to keep all of the horses hydrated- filling buckets four times a day and adding electrolytes and gatorade as a precaution. What we didn't think about though, was all of the dust.

Dust has been a terrible enemy of our lately, causing runny noses in the horses and icky eyes. Without much we can do about it though, we put flymasks on the horses to keep it out of their eyes as much as possible. We have always fed our horses hay on a low platform and a mesh net over it to let any water run off that might get in it, but that makes it easy for dust to settle into the hay. We believe that the dust may be getting into the horse's intestines and/or lungs and creating problems. We have moved out flatbed trailer into the pasture and now feed hay on that, and go out twice a day to wet the ground. With all of the wind and 100+ degree weather though, its almost useless because the hay is still scattering, and dust is still whipping around everywhere.

This morning, our dwarf- Fea, coliced. Thankfully his was very minor and he has already fully recovered, but there is obviously something wrong still if TWO horses have died from severe colic in the past month. We're fairly sure that dust is the problem though.

So my questions are these. Have you ever had a horse colic because of dust? Do you have any more suggestions on how to manage the dust? and does our theory seem correct?

thankyou for reading this. Cookies to you all- it was rather long!

spirit88 06-21-2011 05:23 PM

Hi there so sorry for your loss of two horses i would try adding psyllium to their feed. It will help move sand from their digestive tract.Other then that i dont know. I do know how scary colic is iv lost one to colic back in 2003. Best of luck.

JustDressageIt 06-21-2011 07:16 PM

If dust is a problem, it may be akin to a sand-ish colic; there are products on the market to help prevent sand colic. Interesting theory, I would definitely encourage you to speak with your vet about it.
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Endiku 06-22-2011 06:55 PM

YESSS. As if on cue, the rain has come! It rained from 5 am this morning until about an hour ago- and although it flooded a stall or two of ours and the arena looks like a swamp, we are SO glad that its here. We're hoping the rain with settle the dust atleast for the time being.

And we did think about trying to add something to their feed that helps move dust/sand along. The problem is that we are a nonprofit therapy barn which means money is always a bit tight, and we have almost thirty minis and ponies. Buying something like that would cost a fortune. We may just have to cowboy up and do it anyways though, as we can't go on loosing horses.

Thanks for the advice guys!

Cherie 06-22-2011 10:56 PM

If it is unusually hot and unusually dry, you can get epidemics of colics from impactions. Horses need to drink a LOT more water when it gets very hot (like the 100+ temps you are talking about). If they do not drink more than usual, it is real common to have them colic, in bunches at times.

I am surprised that your Vet did not recommend adding loose salt to all of the horse's feed daily. We are experiencing a heat wave in Southern Oklahoma, so we started adding extra salt daily to all of the dry lotted horses and making sure the pasture horses have loose salt and loose mineral (25% salt) available at all times. They will drink a lot more water if they are fed loose salt than if they are not.

Many horses become chronic colicers in hot weather. Quite a few of them end up dying if the problem is not addressed. The same thing is true in unusually cold weather. Horses will not drink as much as they should and end up with dry impaction colics.

cakemom 06-23-2011 04:12 AM

If you are feeding grain, add water to it and feed a slurry, and you can, for very cheap, buy metimucil walmart brand and feed that once a day for a week out of each month.
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Cherie 06-23-2011 07:36 AM

The tiny bit of more water a horse gets in a mash is of no use at all. A handful of loose salt or loose mineral will make one drink several gallons more water. That is what you need when the temperature goes way high.

I also am a fan of tubing with water and mineral oil mixed rather than straight mineral oil. Take a dry fecal ball and see if it disolves better in a glass of water or a glass of oil? Hot weather impactions are most often caused by too little water in the gut. That is what needs to be fixed.

cakemom 06-23-2011 09:44 AM

Well, according to our vet it's good practice in this extreme heat, and we are mixing 2 gallons or so in their feed.
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Alwaysbehind 06-23-2011 10:07 AM

My deepest condolences for your losses.

Did you do a necropsy on either horse to give you an idea of what is going on?

Endiku 06-23-2011 07:37 PM

Cherie- living in Texas as we do, we already mix half a cup of salt with every bucket of feed from May up until September as the vet recommended, so he probably didn't feel that he needed to tell us again.

Our first thought was dehydration, too. We carefully monitor the horse's water intake though, and the increase seemed to be normal. Generally all sixteen horses will drink two to two and a half 50-gallon tubs in the summer, and they've been right at that mark. Ofcourse, we understand that this doesnt necessarily mean a horse is hydrated, especially in this weather- but when checking for the telltale concaves, gums, skin, etc, they all seemed fine. Either way, we did give them all IV fluids even before the vets arrived, but it didn't seem to make a difference.

We went out and bought some Sand-Free which is supposed to be a really good Pysllium flush-out. It costs almost $90 for a 15 pound bucket though, which was definately a large chunk out of our non existant money. Really hoping that it works! The good news though, is that now that the dust has turned to mud, everyone's eyes and noses are much happier.

Alwaysbehind- we were offered to do one on the first filly and declined, thinking it was a fluke. On the second mare though, after a lot of talking it over, we decided that it was best to go ahead and get one, so yes. The results won't be back for two weeks though, and thats a lot of time when you're dealing with colic like this. I'm really hoping the psyllium is going to work.

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