Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Mineral Oil



Mineral oil is a transparent odorless petroleum-based byproduct. It is a laxative and is commonly given to horses with abdominal pain (colic), to lubricate the intestine and encourage gastrointestinal movement (motility).

However, mineral oil does not penetrate or help break down firmly impacted material. In treating abdominal pain (colic), mineral oil is commonly given in combination with water and sometimes electrolytes, to a horse through a nasogastric tube (intubation).

Related DiagnosesThis Treatment Might Be Used for these Diagnoses

Consider Potential Side Effects & Complications

Occasionally a horse develops a bloody nose from intubation. Death can result if the tube is passed into the lungs instead of the stomach and fluids or mineral oil are introduced.

Consider Reasons Not To Use This Treatment

Fluids are not introduced to the stomach if an obstruction is suspected. This could worsen the problem. Generally, mineral oil is not given to horses with reflux. It also may not be used in some potentially surgical colic cases.

Is It working? Timeframe for effect

With fluids and/or mineral oil, increased gut motility is experienced within a few minutes.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP


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