7 early colic signs that you might not know

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Colic.. As a horse owner this is probably the worse case scenario for our horses. It is estimated that 90% of horse owners can’t stop the early signs of colic. Most owners can recognise classic signs of colic, such as a horse rolling a lot, but there are several subtle signs that can be easily missed. Spotting these early means faster treatment for your horse, and a better prognosis and outcome. Think of colic signs as a jigsaw puzzle, one sign on its own doesn’t definitely mean your horse has colic but putting a few together certainly means speaking to your vet.

  1. Your horse is restless or agitated
    Knowing what is normal for your horse is so important. If you have the type of horse who is always rushing between the door and the haynet then this might not be a cause for concern. However your horse being unsettled or restless should not be dismissed, as this could be a sign of colic which is easy to miss.
  2. Your horse hasn’t eaten as much as normal
    This does depend on what is normal for your horse, but the vast majority of horses do finish all their feeds up. If your horse hasn’t eaten, or has left half of its dinner this is worth noting. What other signs can you spot?
  3. Your horse hasn’t passed as many droppings as normal
    You’re mucking out before work, you’re in a hurry it’s easy to think “oh not so much poo today, I’ll muck out again later it must be buried.” Whilst that might be the case alarm bells should be ringing if you find that your horse has passed less droppings.
  4. Your horse is tired or lethargic
    Whilst there could be a good reason for your horse being tired (sudden warm weather, the day after a long show) this could be an early indicator of a colic case
  5. Your horse looks depressed or miserable
    Your horse just seeming a bit off and looking very quite could be a sign of colic, and shouldn’t be dismissed.
  6. Your horse has dry or tacky gums
    Changes in clinical parameters such as increased respiration rate and heart rate can be noticed if your horse has colic, but dry sticky gums can be easily missed
  7. A change in consistency of your horse’s droppings
    This can be easily explained away as being due to a change of paddock, or new grass but it might be colic.

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