Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Intestinal Foreign Body

Young horses are more likely to eat foreign material due to their curiosity, although occasionally adult horses do the same.

Pieces of twine, fibers from lead ropes and feed sacks, and wire mesh from window screens are just some examples of foreign material I have personally found in the intestine of horses.

Often, this material passes through the intestine and is evacuated in manure uneventfully. However, in some cases it causes a blockage within the intestinal tract.

Foreign bodies can also stay within the intestine for weeks or months, accumulating a coating of hard mineral deposit. When this “fossilization” occurs the resulting stone is called a “bezoar” or fecalith. These can grow quite large and heavy and usually end up blocking the lower part of the intestine, the small colon.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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