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Equine Health Resource

Intestinal, Gut Sounds with Stethoscope Less Than Normal

Code Green - Contact Your Vet to Obtain Useful Advice & Resources

Code Green - Contact Your Vet to Obtain Useful Advice & Resources

  • If the horse seems normal other than this sign.

Seemingly decreased intestinal sounds in what seems to be an otherwise normal horse is not cause for alarm. Normal intestinal motility constantly changes depending upon the circumstances. Intestinal nerves signal the intestine to contract more or less, depending upon a variety of factors. If a horse is deprived of food, is exercising, stressed or ill, intestinal motility usually decreases and you will hear less with a stethoscope. There is also a great range of normal intestinal sounds for a horse.


Assess your horse’s general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), and look for other signs of illness, particularly those associated with abdominal pain (colic). Listen to all quadrants again in quiet surroundings, using good technique and a good stethoscope. You may simply not have been able to hear the sounds.

If your horse has decreased intestinal motility, but shows no other signs or illness or disease, they may be just fine. Offer them some feed. If you then reassess their gut sounds and notice increases in intestinal sounds, you may simply monitor them.

Contact your vet if your horse is showing other signs of illness or disease. In many cases of abdominal pain, regardless of cause, there is an early period of reduced gut sounds in at least one quadrant of the abdomen and monitoring the signs of intestinal motility is a useful indicator.


Your vet interprets this finding in the context of the other signs the horse is showing, and the specifics of that case.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP


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