Conditions or ailments that are the cause of a problem that you see - your observation.

Your vet may diagnose

Colic, Gas, Large Colon Tympany


A "gas" colic is when a horse's large colon is distended with gas but, based on the diagnostics performed, the vet does not believe that there is a physical obstruction of the intestine.

This condition is thought to occur due to an escalating cycle of pain and excessive intestinal filling (distention). Pain causes paralysis of the gut's normal movement, which causes more distention, causing more pain, causing more distention, and so on.

Horses with this problem can demonstrate mild to very severe signs of abdominal pain. Generally, however, if a horse responds to simple treatments, vets tend to attribute the episode to a large colon "gas colic."

This may be the horse that has a single bout of abdominal pain and responds well to a shot of flunixin (Banamine) or other medication, or simply resolves without additional treatment.

On the other hand, this fallback diagnosis might be confused with a variety of other conditions causing abdominal pain. It is often difficult to differentiate this type of colic from displacements and impactions of the colon.

my vet's role


Good with treatment and no complicating factors. Potential for recurrence is fairly high. The question is always why this occurred in the first place, and how to prevent it again in the future.

my role


I might observe

You might make these observations when a horse has this condition.

Very Common
Less Common
more observations

Questions To Ask Your Vet:
  • How did this occur?
  • Is there something in my management that I can change that might reduce the chance of this problem in the future?

All of the husbandry suggestions for reducing the incidence of colic in horses and supporting good gastrointestinal health. Make all feed changes gradually.

further reading & resources

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP