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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug. 11, 2003
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    Default Recurring spasmodic colic symptoms - any ideas? - Update

    My 16yo gelding colic'd badly about 3 weeks ago. Pawing, biting his stomach, rolling and then just lying flat on his side, eyes closed and panting - classic symptoms.

    The vet came out and oiled him, he seemed to perk up. Overnight he pooped about 4 times but the next morning he was back down - same thing.

    I took him to the equine hospital and they diagnosed an impaction in his large colon. He stayed there for 4 days and ended up on fluids. On Day 4 they said that the impaction was now maleable and he could go home as he would pass it. The following day he looked bad again. I called the vet but they said that he was probably pretty inflamed and sore from the impaction. He then did OK for a few days, but seemed to get bad again at the weekend. I took him back to the hospital where they palpated him but said there was no impaction, vital signs were OK, checked his blood for liver issues - nothing wrong. He stayed there for another 3 days on pasture board and they observed no issues, so I brought him home again.

    Yesterday it happened again! He was rolling and kicking. He lay flat on his side where he remained for about 20 mins groaning with his eyes closed. Even when one of the dogs sniffed his ear he didn't flinch. We walked him a bit, he pooped and then lay down again, while we were walking him! Put him in a stall and went to pull some banamine. I gave him 10cc banamine IV and he seemed fine. Called the hospital again and they suggested that it could either be a floating enterolith or ulcers. Went to local vet and bought Gastogard (HOLY SMOKES that stuff is expensive!!!)

    Kept him in overnight and turned him out again in a small pasture this morning - no feed, decent grass, clean water. Gave him half a tube of gastrogard.

    He did well for about an hour and then started rolling again. Went to pull up some more banamine (more than 12 hours since the previous dose) and then before giving it to him he seemed OK again. He hung out, not grazing much, but not looking so horrible, for the rest of the day. Tonight he is yawning like crazy.

    Other symptoms - stretching his neck

    Can anyone think of anything else this could be? I hate to have him opened up for exploratory surgery because there "might" be an enterolith, however likewise I don't want to jeopardise his health.

    This is a horse who has been a pasture puff for about 2 years, I have owned for 11 and he has never had a sick day in his life.
    Last edited by Kate66; Nov. 14, 2008 at 08:51 PM. Reason: update



  2. #2
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    May. 31, 2007
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    Aiken, SC
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    Default

    I'm reading it but I just don't know how to help you if your horse is already under the care of a Vet hospital.

    He sure doesn't sound fine

    They only have the 2 choices? Open him up or do nothing?

    There is no way to x-ray, sonogram, MRI or endoscope a big rock in his gut

    Sending jingles your way and I hope he turns around soon!



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov. 13, 2002
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    I'm sorry that you have to go through this--nothing is worse than having a sick horse and not having a clue as to what to do to help it (been there with a pony, done that ).

    How much exercise does this horse get??? Even if the horse is a pasture puff it would be beneficial for him to go out for daily twenty minute walks in hand to keep his innards moving.

    What are you feeding him? Have you changed anything lately??? I'd be tempted to take him off everything but forage products for a while (feed hay, chopped hay, hay pellets, hay cubes, or rehydrated beet pulp--anything to get moisture into his digestive system).

    How is his drinking??? Are you giving him any magnesium oxide (which would pull some moisture to his bowels) or table salt (just a half a teaspoon to get him to drink)?

    It just seems to me there ought to be a way to rule things out without having to cut the guy open!

    I hope you can get this resolved without too much trouble....
    "If you can't be thankful for what you have you can at least be thankful for what you've avoided." ~Anonymous~



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb. 6, 2003
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    Yeesh...what a crappy thing to go through!
    I would suggest having him scoped for ulcers...GastroGuard is expensive as hell and it's a shame to waste it if the horse doesn;t have stomach ulcers. It's probably cheaper to scope than to buy the GG. That way you;ll also know definitely if he just needs some time for the GG to work or if he even has stomach ulcers at all.
    How is he urinating? Is it possible he has a stone? That causes intermittent pain that's pretty severe too. Has he been drinking well? Get as much fluids into him as possible.
    I had a gelding with the same symptoms as yours...serious pain that comes and goes, possible impaction but nobody was 100% sure on that, possible enterolith (I was also against exploratory surgery) stayed at the vet clinic on and off and showed little signs of issues there but had them at home...and so forth. (I think they act more stoic in an unfamiliar place anyways) Mine had started out with a stone that he did pass, he was ultrasounded a few times and the stone was visible and then it was gone. There were aa few stones, I actually found two of them. But his symptoms continued for a full month...in and out of the clinic and consults with other surgical equine vets all said to do exploratory surgery and by that time all were stating it was grim anyways sicne they didn;t know what they'd find and he was given a very low survival rate.
    Well....come to find out he had right dorsal colitis. An ulcer in his intestines at the right dorsal curve...and intestine ulcers aren't detectable and don't respond to gastroguard. The only way to really diagnose RDC is by continuing symptoms and guessing. So here I'm planning on putting my poor gelding down due to undiagnosed serious recurring colics/pain or considering what the surgeons are telling me is a low chance surgery and the fix was changing his freaking diet. That's it. A diet change.
    he got the RDC from being on low amounts of NSAIDs during the kidney stone while being dehydrated. It's an extremely painful thing for them to have and they can be fine one minute and down in serious pain the next.
    So maybe try the diet change and see what happens...it can't hurt him otherwise. The diet change is that he gets absolutely no hay. The hay scratches the ulcer and causes serious pain and they have to eat many small meals daily to make sure onlya little mushy, soft stuff is going through that area of the colon. No grain either...the grain pieces can get stuck in the ulcer and cause pain. I fed my gelding timothy cubes and hay stretcher soaked into mush 6 times per day. Smaller amounts, more times. Gets a lot more water into them too. And oddly they seem to love the new slushy meals. Within 24 hours the pain was lessened and with 48 he ws symptom free. He had to stay on that diet for 3 months on the mush only and then for the next 3 months he was on the mush 4 times per day and very soaked, soft hay 2 times per day. No dry scratchy hay and no grain during that time. He healed 100%...the diet is a royal pain over time to feed but worth it. As long as RDC is caught before the ulcer eats clean through the colon they heal with the diet. If it does go through it's usually fatal.
    So maybe try the diet for 48-72 hours and see if he goes symptom free?
    You jump in the saddle,
    Hold onto the bridle!
    Jump in the line!
    ...Belefonte



  5. #5
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    Thanks for your responses.

    I think the hospital is good, but I am always conscious that sometimes someone out there has had experience of something else that they might not think of.

    They suggested that with all his yawning it could be liver related, but did the bloodwork and said it was fine.

    He's only on pasture right now Cherry. Before this he only got 1/4 scoop of Safe Choice (an extruded, very digestable feed) and is out 24x7, once a day. Right now he is getting nothing other than pasture and for now, it's OK.

    He doesn't get any exercise these days. I have a small child, work and am on my own, so it's very difficult to actually get that time. I know that is a horrible excuse and increasingly I feel that this is a time in my life that I shouldn't have a horse at all. I have gone from 3 down to 1 for this reason, but this is "my" boy. Doing these 120 mile round trips to the hospital isn't much fun either. Perhaps I should get a round pen where I could literally just stick child in stroller , leave her outside and get a chance to keep him moving.

    Thanks again.



  6. #6
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    Aug. 26, 2005
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    NEPA
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    Default recurring spasmodic colic

    I certainly don't mean to alarm you any further but I have often found yawning to be a sign of abdominal pain/discomfort. In fact, yawning is usually one of the earliest signs that one of my broodmares is nearing foaling. It sounds like your boys issues are not yet resolved. Did they do a belly tap? That's really not a big deal and can sometimes give valuable insight as to what may be going on. I've been in your position and it's very stressful, I wish you the best.
    Kim



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul. 29, 2008
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    VA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kate66 View Post

    He doesn't get any exercise these days. I have a small child, work and am on my own, so it's very difficult to actually get that time. I know that is a horrible excuse and increasingly I feel that this is a time in my life that I shouldn't have a horse at all. I have gone from 3 down to 1 for this reason, but this is "my" boy. Doing these 120 mile round trips to the hospital isn't much fun either. Perhaps I should get a round pen where I could literally just stick child in stroller , leave her outside and get a chance to keep him moving.
    This is off topic from your original post, but I just wanted to say that IMHO you shouldn't beat yourself up. It sounds like you have a lot on your plate and this very frustrating episode is adding even more. But even with a small child, work, etc., you're still taking great care of him (hello, multiple trips to the horsie hospital!).

    I've been feeling some of the same guilt, because I'm working long hours right now and sometimes just have the time/energy at the end of the day to feed, muck, blanket, etc. without spending lots of time with my horses. But sometimes you just do the best you can, and realize that they could be a LOT worse off! Hang in there and hopefully this colic will be resolved soon.



  8. #8
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    Nov. 13, 2006
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    Lucky horse to have you for a mom.

    The intestinal ulcer that another poster mentioned makes sense. It's possible that the original impaction irritated some part of his digestive tract when it passed thus causing intermittent bouts of pain as the grass from pasture passes through that section of the tract. I had a filly earlier this year develop an ulcer on her esophagus as a result of choke, who would have thought?

    It does take a few days and up to a week for gastroguard to take effect if it is indeed stomach ulcers.

    Good luck.



  9. #9
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    Thanks again for your responses.

    I have dropped him off at horsie hospital again yesterday and they are going to scope him for ulcers today and monitor him. I did buy some gastrogard but, holy smokes, just about died - $38/tube and a tube/day for 4 weeks?????

    Misty Blue - thanks for your ideas, I am going to bring them up to the vet just as a question, to see what they say.

    Lovemyoldguy - thanks for your post. Sometimes it just gets too much and I have had a few tears over this recently. Last year my lovely Hano mare fractured her olecranon in the pasture and after 3 months lay up where I was trying to clean 2 stalls twice a day (because of course she wouldn't stay in on her own!), she opened it straight back up again the 1st time I took her back out of the stall. When they suggested either another 3 months layup or surgery followed by layup, I completely lost it and actually just ended up giving her away to one of the great people at the hospital. (She actually has had it pinned now and has been bred so has a good home).

    jennywho - your suggestion was exactly what the hospital said, so perhaps I am just looking for resolution too quickly. I do hate to see him in pain and it scares the crap out of me when he lies flat out, closes his eyes, pants and groans.

    Thanks again everyone!



  10. #10
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    Oct. 19, 2005
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    What are you feeding him besides hay? Feeding grain increases colic risk by 4 times and also significantl increases the risk of forming stomach and colonic ulcers. If you do feed grain, I would stop doing so immediately and look for alternatives. Make sure he gets none at the vet hospital either.

    Make sure he gets pre-and probiotics as well to restore healthy gut function.

    The impaction could also be caused simply because the gut is too painful from ulcers to function properly. In addition, we know that people, dogs and cats can develop gluten intolerance. I would not be suprised if that could possibly be also a factor for some horses. We just do not know because no reserach is done in that area.

    Interestingly too, according to researchers, the heliobactor pylori bacteria has now been found in some horse. As we know , this bacterium is thought to cause ulcers in humans!

    Best wishes!!



  11. #11
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    Oct. 13, 2008
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    Default been there, done that

    I totally feel for you Kate 66. My mare was colicing alot and she wasnt impacted so I knew it wasnt that.I finally took her to get scoped and low and behold ulcers.Did the gastro gard thing( very expensive) but works.Ulcers can come back very easily so I only feed her grass hay and she gets that 3 times a day as opposed to just twice aday. I let her eat a little before riding her because exercise increase the stomach fluids so there should be something in the stomach to absorb it. I give her a little gastro- gard before and after trailering or anything that could be stressful. I give her Tum-ease cookies everyday and she hasnt had another episode. I hope I didnt just jinx myself!! I found some generic gastro-gard that is alot cheaper. web site is ponymeds .com. good luck!



  12. #12
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    Jul. 24, 2008
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    If it was my horse, after dealing with this for three weeks and no answers from the vets, I would put him down. Something is really wrong and he's been in a lot of pain. If he is still yawning/stretching tonight, he is still in pain.

    I could not afford exploratory surgery or ongoing intensive vet care, which would also help me make my decision.

    Best of luck to you and your guy. Sounds like you have been doing everything you can for him!



  13. #13
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    Feb. 6, 2003
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    This is the best Colic information site http://www.liv.ac.uk/equinecolic/colic_types_causes.htm



  14. #14
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    Jun. 27, 2006
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    Didn't see where you are located, but this time of year could he be eating something in his turnout that he shouldn't like acorns or falling leaves.



  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by ddb View Post
    Didn't see where you are located, but this time of year could he be eating something in his turnout that he shouldn't like acorns or falling leaves.
    Very good point as well. One of a client's minis seemed to have ingested some English Laurel seeds and got colicky from that too!



  16. #16
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    Scoped for ulcers today - nothing - completely clear.

    However, then they fed him and turned him out and within an hour he was down and rolling. They took him back in, gave him banamine. Said his heart rate was low but nothing else obvious. Tomorrow, free of charge, because they don't know what is going on, they are going to ultrasound him. They are also starting him on oral steroids to see if that makes any difference. Interestingly the vet said that Dexamethasone has a risk of causing colic, so it's something else they use.

    Saultgirl - he's not colicing constantly for 3 weeks. It's very spasmodic. He will have what appears to be a lot of pain for a couple of hours but then be fine for 2-3 days. I am not at the point of having him put down yet. For the meantime I can give him IV banamine that has him feeling better almost immediately. Not a long term solution, but works for now.

    Borntoride - he was only being fed 0.75lbs of Safechoice a day, which is an extruded feed like Senior feed, and NO hay. He is pastured 24x7 on decent grass.

    However, I am starting to wonder if there is something else that he is eating. We had a lot of trees down with Hurricane Ike, so it's possible that there is something else on the ground that there is not normally. However, that wouldn't account for him colicing at the hospital this morning, after being there for 18 hours unfed in a stall, until they fed him 1/2 scoop of Senior feed.

    Thanks again for the ideas and the link



  17. #17
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    He started colicing again after they had fed him the grain? If so, that would make me very suspicious that it does have something to do with the grain. He may be reacting to any of the ingredients in the product.....personally I would never feed this stuff as a low carb feed. Contains too many starches and sugars...........I'd feed him soaked hay pellets only - keep it as simple and natural as possible.......

    Safechoice ingredients:
    Wheat middlings
    Rice bran
    Ground wheat
    Soybean hulls (not more than 10%)
    Suncured alfalfa meal
    Maize Distillers Dried Grains with solubles, Wnola pressed safflower meal, calcium carbonate, Soybean oil, cane molasses, canola meal, salt, Vitamin E, Calcium Lignosulfonate L-Lysine, Sodium Bentonite,, Yeast Culture, Sodium Selenite, Lactobaillus acidophilus fermentation product dehydrated proplonic acid, zinc sulfate, copper lysine, cobalt glucoheptonate, niacin supplement, Thiamine, Riboflavin



  18. #18
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    Could be parasites.
    Lipomas can also cause colic by obstructing small intestine without affecting blood supply but this is far less common. Horses with this type of problem tend to have intermittent colic episodes with periods of normal gut function between.



  19. #19
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    Sorry, I should have been more clear. At the hospital he wouldn't have got safechoice. I think they gave him a handful of senior feed and a small amount of alfalfa.

    Did a fecal when he colic'd first time for parasites and he was clear.

    I'll have to google Lipomas - not familar with that term.



  20. #20
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    Same difference. I would only feed him grass hay mashes for a while! If he tolerates that you know it has something to do with the grain feed.



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