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Equine Health Resource

Intestinal, Gut Sounds with Stethoscope Seem More 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.
  • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) suggest the horse is otherwise normal.

You listen to your horse’s intestine with a stethoscope and there is almost constant rumbling and squeaking. Taken alone, this observation may not be cause for worry. Horses that are eating often have very loud and obvious intestinal sounds, while those that are fasted (no access to feed) have less motility.

In horses not showing colic signs, loud sounds can still indicate intestinal disturbance or upset. Loud intestinal sounds often also occur in conjunction with a feed change and can sometimes be heard in horses that have certain chronic intestinal conditions, like sand accumulation.

Excessive intestinal motility (hypermotility) is also a common finding in horses experiencing colic and generally in colicy horses is considered a more favorable sign than too little motility. Horses that are recovering from a transient bout of abdominal pain often have loud and rumbly intestinal sounds.


First, be sure you know what NORMAL sounds like so you have something to compare to. When in doubt, compare to one of your other horses. Assess your horse’s general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), paying particular attention to their heart rate, mucous membrane color and gut sounds. Listen carefully to all quadrants. Watch for signs of abdominal pain (colic). Assess the horse’s appetite and attitude with handfuls of bland hay.

If the horse is otherwise normal and hungry, you may simply want to recheck the horse later to see if your finding has changed. If, however, you notice any other abnormalities, share your findings and concerns with your vet.


Vets often hear loud or excessive intestinal sounds in horses that have experienced colic, but this finding is usually more desirable than hearing less than normal sounds. In most cases, we simply take note of the excessive sounds and monitor them going forward, mostly looking at the clinical condition of the horse.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP


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