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Clinic Hours:
Mon-Fri 8 to 5:30
Sat. by appointment only

31310 Woodhaven Trail
Cannon Falls, MN 55009

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Phone Numbers:
651-258-4050 office
651-258-4051 fax
651-222-0885 Twin Cities


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Equine Colic

Colic is one of the most dangerous medical problems associated with horses. Each year an estimated 1 out of 10 horses will experience colic or abdominal pain.

Colic signs are:

Pawing at the ground
Looking at the belly
Restlessness & stamping the hind feet
Lying down and getting back up
Lack of appetite
Diarrhea may indicate sand colic

Severe colic signs are:

Sweating profusely
Pawing and kicking at belly
Rolling violently
Have few or no gut sounds
Elevated heart and respiration rate
Increased or decreased body temperature
Shocky (pale or purple gums)

Horses exhibiting signs of colic should be examined by Dr. Winter immediately!
Colic can become life threatening in a matter of minutes.

Colic is caused by:

bullet Twisted intestine bullet Internal parasites, due to migrating larvae bullet Sand ingestion/impaction bullet Poor quality hay bullet Overeating bullet Stress bullet Drinking cold water after exercise bullet Irregular feeding schedule

Colic Prevention:

bullet Provide fresh, clean water bullet Feed good quality hay which is free of mold and weeds bullet Provide pasture turnout with rotation bullet Test fecals for sand and worm eggs bullet Maintain appropriate de-worming program /control parasites bullet Have teeth floated on a routine basis bullet Properly condition your horse bullet Monthly use of psyllium to prevent sand impactions bullet Change feed gradually  

Colic Exam

Colic can be a scary event and the severity of it can be difficult to determine without a proper exam. Colic can be caused by many different things and it is important to know more about how the horseís body is reacting in order to treat it properly. Dr. Winter often administers various injections depending on the horseís gut sounds, physical exam and appearance. Drugs can be administered to calm the horse, slow spasmic gut movements, and reduce pain. He also passes a nasal gastric tube, smells the stomach contents and releases gas if possible. Once the tube is in place, he pumps oil and other medications with warm water into the stomach to help loosen and move everything thatís causing the pain and discomfort through the intestinal tract. Some horses are more susceptible to colic whereas others may experience a single random event but it is important to take it seriously and have Dr. Winter examine your horse if you suspect colic.



Type of Pain




Rapid fermentation of rich starchy food cause gas to build in the cecum or large intestine

Sharp, intermittent

Horse looks agitated, glances at sides, stomps feet, lies down and gets up often, produces audible gassy rumbles from belly

Pain-relieving medication, such as Banamine, to relax the horse so the gas can be expelled; walking the horse or briefly trailering him may facilitate movement


Food, Parasites, or scars block or partial obstruct part of the intestinal tract

Dull, slow to build, may subside periodically

Horse is markedly less attentive to stimuli in his surroundings, looks depressed, and/or spends prolonged periods lying down.

Medication to stimulate gut motility or mineral oil to lubricate the tract and blockage; large volumes of IV fluids to moisten and soften the hardened ingesta and relieve dehydration. Surgery may be required


A portion of intestine becomes displaced or twists on itself, cutting off blood supply in some cases

Increasingly intense

Horse is restless, sweats, shows elevated pulse and respiratory rates, may be in shock with pale or purple gums

Surgery to correct the displacement and/or remove portions of the intestine irreparably damaged by lack of blood supply


Ingested sand accumulates in the lowest portion of the large intestine irritating and eventually stretching it

Little to none until stretching occurs, then increasingly intense

Over many weeks, horse experiences weight loss, develops diarrhea; when intestine stretches, he is restless, sweats, shows elevated pulse and respiratory rates, appears to be in shock with pale or discolored gums

Repeated doses of laxative to stimulate the gut to move the sand out in the manure; tests for sand in manure or x-rays of the gut to tract progress; surgery may be required to remove a persistent large concrete like mass.

Click here to print the TYPES OF COLIC CHART.


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