My guy just had to have emergency colic surgery and I was just wondering what to expect/plan for when he comes home. Yes, of course I'll ask his vet, too, but just thought this would be a place to start while I sit and wait. Any hay/food recommedations, things to have/not have in his stall, etc, from those who have been through this? Thanks!
"Radar, the man's ex-cavalry: if he sees four flies having a meeting, he knows they're talking about a horse!" Cptn. BJ Hunnicutt, M*A*S*H Season 4, Episode "Dear Mildred"
Most vets will give you an exact feeding plan for post-surgery, which they'll generally start with the horse while he's still at the clinic. It isn't usually something that they'll leave you guessing about Every vet has his or her own opinions about post-surgery feeding -- some prefer only hay, some prefer only Equine Senior. In my experience, the feeding plan generally consists of small meals w/ slowly increasing amounts + hand grazing.
Go with what your vet recommends (which it sounds like you're already planning to do!) and if you have any questions, be sure to ask! Hope the surgery went well!
In my experience, it will depend on the type of surgery/cause of the colic, that will determine what the feeding protocol will be.
For my horse, it was no hay (for the rest of his life). So, I fed him five times a day, and hand grazed him for 30 minutes every hour, except for overnight. It was a long month until he could go on restricted turnout (small paddock, luckily I have grass in it). He was put on a complete feed, and the only one he liked was Blue Seal Vintage Senior - which is now Sentinel Senior.
The vet didn't want him to have a buddy in the paddock, but he pitched a fit after 10 minutes, so I had to recruit my older gelding to be his babysitter until he was out of restricted turnout. In that two weeks, they managed to do a number on the grass in the paddock/riding ring.
I also had to have a buddy in the barn with him while he was on stall restrictions, so I would rotate between my two other horses, they would stay in every other hour with him.
Oh, also, the vet came back out a week after he came home to remove the stitches, he healed up fine.
Good luck during the recovery period.
There are friends and faces that may be forgotten, but there are horses that never will be. - Andy Adams
I've gone through colic surgery with two horses. Your horse will be on small frequent feedings at first and will be hungry. Strip the stall before he comes home and put in fresh bedding (no straw) so that he is not nosing around trying to eat scraps of hay along with shavings. Also, have a muzzle on hand in case you need it. I was desperate for one at 2am when my guy was hungry enough to attempt to eat shavings.
Put up a checklist on his stall so that you can record feeding times/amounts and also his temperature and any notes on his behavior.
A small-mesh hay bag is helpful once they are back on hay.
Get tons of rest and be prepared to camp out at the barn when he first comes home. The first few weeks post-op can be pretty stressful. Clear your schedule accordingly.
Like everyone is saying - be prepared for lack of sleep! Your vet will give you detailed feeding instructions.
My schedule when I first brought my mare home was a small amount (about 1 lb) of equine senior mash every three hours and a handful of hay. After about day 4 at home she was on every 3 hours equine senior mash and 1 flake of hay and we slowly increased amounts of hay and time between feedings. It was a really stressful time, and I worried myself ragged over every pile of poo and weird face, sigh or stomach gurgle.
The one thing that I wish that I had done a little better was make sure that she was getting enough vitamins/minerals to help her body to heal. I had her on equipride after surgery (approved by my vet) but I don't think it had enough zinc, copper and vitamin E to fuel her body as it was healing. For months after surgery her coat and hooves were dull and unhealthy looking. Check with your vet and maybe about 2 weeks to a month after surgery put your boy on a really good vit/mineral supplement and a digestive support with probiotics. Of course start out on really tiny amounts mixed with each feeding and up it to a full dose over a week or two.
In my experience a lot of the vets recommend Platinum but I don't personally like it as it is sooo expensive and doesn't really deliver good levels of the vit/minerals that I like to see. Personally if I was doing it over again I would have put her on these 2 supplements:
Everyone has a different opinion on supplements, so use whatever you personally like just make sure that the copper, zinc & vitamine E are on the high side as the body uses higher amounts of these in healing. Also MSM, omega 3's & glucosamine can be helpful.
Yup. The vet who performed the surgery will/should send you home w discharge instructions! I just went through this with my mare (4 y/o TB, bad impaction. They thought she had a torsion bc nothing medically was working to relieve pain. Ended up having to open her intestines to relieve the impaction but didn't have to resect). Her surgery was at Michigan State on 9/16. She came home 9/21. She was sent home on this diet: 1 scoop equine senior twice a day, 12 flakes grass hay spread throughout the day with the ok to gradually add Tim/alfalfa mix a flake to each feeding (which would replace the grass flake) til she was back on that. Activity: 30 days stall rest with frequent handgrazing. Days 30-60 post op individual turnout (after her vet re-eval incision and gave approval). Days 60-90 group turnout. Days 90-120 begin flatwork riding. Day 120, she can jump again! She came home with a hernia belt which she wore til day 20 post op (her sensitive chestnut skin started getting welts and rub marks). Luckily her incision healed beautifully! Stitches were dissolvable. Just crossing my fingers that she keeps healin complication free and we have no further colic episodes! And can I say thank god I had insurance! They were fantastic and covered everything but my farm call from the vet!
Good luck and keep us posted!