10 tips for reducing the risk of colic
1. Establish a daily routine – including feeding and exercise schedules, and stick to it.
2. Feed a high quality diet comprised primarily of roughage.
3. Avoid feeding excessive grain and energy dense supplements. At least half the horse’s energy should be supplied through hay or forage.
4. Divide daily concentrate rations into two or more smaller feeds rather than one large one to avoid overloading the horse’s digestive tract. Hay is best fed continuously throughout the day.
5. Set up a regular parasite control program with the help of your vet.
6. Whenever possible, provide exercise and/or turnout on a daily basis. Change the intensity and duration of an exercise regimen gradually.
7. Provide fresh, clean water at all times.
8. Avoid putting feed directly on the ground, especially in sandy soils.
9. Discuss with your vet to see if routinely feeding psyllium would be appropriate for your horse/pony if you live in an area with sandy soils
10. Reduce stress. Horses experiencing changes in environment or workloads are at high risk of intestinal dysfunction. Pay special attention to horses when transporting them or changing their surroundings, such as at shows.
What is Sand Colic?
- Gradual accumulation of sand in the large bowel of the horse
- Although sand accumulates slowly, onset of pain can occur rapidly
Clinical Signs of Sand Colic
- Signs of Sand Colic can vary from subtle, low grade discomfort to severe unrelenting pain
Signs of Colic
- Pawing - Kicking at belly - Stretching out
- Rolling - Flank watching - Dullness and inappetence
- Other signs of chronic sand accumulation in the colon
- Weight Loss
- Poor Performance
Prevention of Sand Colic
- Avoid feeding directly from the ground if possible
- Place mats under feed bins to avoid feed that is dropped falling directly onto the ground. Consider large or heavy feed bins that can’t be tipped over onto the ground.
- Consider offering free access grass hay through the day to reduce excessive foraging in very sandy soils.
- Binds sand and stimulates gut motility, helping to aid in the removal of sand
- Common feeding regime is:
- 250g of psyllium per day for the first 7 days of each month
- In some cases a larger dose of psyllium combined with paraffin oil and given by stomach tube every six months is also required to effectively reduce sand accumulation
But there is no hard and fast rule on how much and how often to feed psyllium.
If you are worried about the possibility of sand accumulation in your horse, please don’t hesitate in contacting us and discussing risk factors and preventative measures in avoiding sand colic.
In some cases a larger dose of Psyllium combined with paraffin oil and given by stomach tube every 6 months is also required to effectively reduce sand accumulation.
Original article by; Randwick Equine Center, 'REC Winter 2015 Newsletter,' REC 2015.
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