Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Recurrent Colic Episodes without a Diagnosis

Code Red - Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours

Code Orange - Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours

Code Red - Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours

  • When you first notice signs of colic.
  • If a horse has had flunixin (Banamine) and has not returned to normal attitude and appetite.

Code Orange - Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours

  • Once the problem is resolved it is still wise to evaluate the horse's general health and management to ensure there is no underlying problem.
  • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) suggest the horse is otherwise normal.

Your horse exhibited signs of abdominal pain (colic) a week ago, a month ago, a few months ago… You called your vet who treated your horse symptomatically but did not identify the underlying problem. Or you left your horse alone and they recovered on their own… Or you gave your horse a shot of medication and that did the trick but your horse is now showing signs of colic pain again.

WHAT TO DO

This is a serious situation. Without identifying the underlying problem – a diagnosis – you are gambling with your horse’s life. Repeated bouts of colic suggest the presence of a life-threatening disease. Now is the time to talk to your vet about figuring out what is causing your horse pain, and explore your options to resolve it. This will require physical exam and a variety of other diagnostics.

Assess the horse’s general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), and contact your vet with your findings and concerns. Be prepared to discuss the history as this may offer clues to the nature of the problem.

WHAT YOUR VET DOES

Your vet’s role is to rule out the conditions that could cause the signs. They may need to perform a wide variety of diagnostics to do this. Ultimately, in cases in which the cause seems impossible to find, exploratory surgery of the abdomen may even be employed.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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