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hydration and the colicking horse

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  • hydration and the colicking horse


    This is a post-emergency question -- my horse colicked last week and I have moved to a different region and use a new vet. My old vet would do a subcutaneous or IV bag to keep horses hydrated -- usually set up at first sign of colic. My horse colicked over the weekend and he was not drinking. In the panic of the situation I did not really think to ask about hydration but the new vet did not do this. She actually suggested treatment at their facility so that they could manage pain better and do the IV hydration.

    What's the scoop with this? Why isn't this a normal course of treatment for colicing horses? I'm not criticizing the practices of the vet but wonder if there is a downside to this treatment.

  • #2
    I rarely see vets in my area do IV fluids. I always wondered why they don't make that part of the normal treatment. The last time my mare was colicky, the vet did pump water in her stomach, so I guess that helped with hydration.


    • #3
      I can only speak for myself, but there are a few reasons, any one or combination of which may apply

      1) It's not like putting an IV in a human's hand or arm-Horses don't have very many places to insert IV lines in and I seriously consider each one I place-there is always a risk of phlebitis etc.

      2) Cost. Its expensive and many people are reluctant to pay

      3) Invasiveness-if it's a relatively mild colic IMO there's no reason to place an IVC when tubing once with lytes/oil will work just as well with lower risks.

      I can't say that I have ever given a horse SQ fluids on purpose-they're not like cats with all that extra SQ space plus you'd have to give them a lot and I can't imagine trying to get one to hold still for that long.
      Michael: Seems the people who burned me want me for a job.
      Sam: A job? Does it pay?
      Michael: Nah, it's more of a "we'll kill you if you don't do it" type of thing.
      Sam: Oh. I've never liked those.


      • #4
        Thanks for the clarification Grataan, when it's been one of my horses I have always just been in the moment and followed the vets advice, when it's been someone else's I've not been close enough to bother asking, but glad to hear the reasoning behind it.


        • #5
          Originally posted by ArbGrl View Post
          Thanks for the clarification Grataan, when it's been one of my horses I have always just been in the moment and followed the vets advice, when it's been someone else's I've not been close enough to bother asking, but glad to hear the reasoning behind it.
          Definitely follow your DVM's advice-I don't know anyone who just places them without considering the risks. If they're recommending them to you then there is a good reason.
          Michael: Seems the people who burned me want me for a job.
          Sam: A job? Does it pay?
          Michael: Nah, it's more of a "we'll kill you if you don't do it" type of thing.
          Sam: Oh. I've never liked those.


          • #6
            Many barns are not set up to hold IV equipment and if the vet has a clinic where the horses can go that's probably all that much better. Some BM/BO might not want to have to help manage a horse on IV - and since it's a new vet to the OP, the vet might have had prior experience w/ that barn's set up. I know at my current barn we used to have a stall that was set up for IV but now our vet has a clinic built so it's much easier for us to have them manage any horses requiring IV's, and in the case for colic sometimes they refer on to the surgical center as that way the horse is already there etc.


            • #7
              I have never seen a horse get SubQ fluids when dealing with colic. As Grataan said, fluids, oil and electrolytes added when the horse is tubed do the trick.

              If it does not then moving on to IV fluids seems logical.


              • #8
                Just came through the same issue. "Paris" presented with colic last Tuesday. Vet out, felt a fairly substantial impaction. Tubed her with warm water, oil and electrolytes. Was back at noon to do the same and 4:00 p.m. to do the same. Exact same routine Wednesday and Thursday. Ran an IV line Friday along with tubing 3 times and as of Friday night/Saturday morning, the first "glossy" manure arrived. Could we have had the same result without the IV fluids? Maybe BUT at this point, the Vet was getting particularly frustrated and wanted to ensure we had success. This particular mare is prone to colic and had spent 5 days at the Vet Clinic as a 3 year old on IV before she finally resolved. The last time she had a colic episode, we went directly to the IV fluids and she stayed in her home stall.

                \"If you are going through hell, keep going.\" ~Churchill~