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Colic Conundrum

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  • Colic Conundrum

    Hey everyone!
    I have a very perplexing collect situation and would like anyone's advice. About two years ago my 21-year-old horse coliced in February out of the blue. He is always been hearty and never had problems like that before. Since, he is been more prone to colic like episodes. He tends to get uncomfortable and gassy, start rolling and thrashing and I have call the vet. After trying all the usual stuff it seems that putting him on fluids always resolves the situation.
    Due to this seeming like a dehydration issue, I now keep him on salt and electrolytes year-round.
    I have now put him on probiotics as well to keep his stomach happy. I am not certain why but it seems that his throat swells which may cause him to stop drinking when these episodes occur. He was also recently diagnosed with mild Cushing's and put on pergolide.
    Last night he seemed to appear a little uncomfortable and have a swollen throat again. I would really like to combat these issues before they start again. This horse is my once-in-a-lifetime and I want to keep him as comfortable as possible.
    I have also had in scoped and stomach x-rayed to see if there could be any problems resulting in those areas. They revealed no ulcers or tumors of any kind.
    Please let me know if any thoughts or suggestions anyone may have! Or any suggestions of where to go with my research!
    Also I want to add that I do work with the vet regularly with him but just looking for other possibilities.
    Thank you!!

  • #2
    Bump.

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    • #3
      No advice ~ just Jingles & AO ~

      No advice ~ just Jingles & AO ~
      Zu Zu Bailey " IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ! "

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      • #4
        I have a horse in my barn that just does not drink enough water on her own. She has had no colic symptoms since we now feed her 5 gallons of alfalfa soup (mostly water, with a little alfalfa mixed in so she drinks it) am & pm. She gets a total of 10 gallons of water per day through her feed, and then whatever she drinks on her own. This has worked better for her than salt or electrolytes (she still gets electrolytes though). Jingles for your boy, and wishes for healthy happy horses!!
        Certified Spiritual Medium/ Animal Communicator
        www.heatherevebristol.com
        www.meliorastables.net

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        • #5
          If I'm correct, your horse is now 23 years old. Do you get his teeth floated regularly? Often, older horses have more complications with their teeth. If there is a chewing problem, it "could" possibly be causing problems if he isn't able to digest properly.
          www.DaventryEquestrian.com
          Home of Welsh Cob stallion Goldhills Brandysnap
          Also home to Daventry Equine Appraisals & Equine Expert Witness
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          • #6
            I'm a big fan of Equi-Spazz from Saratoga Horse products. It is like Di-gel for horses. Relieves gas very effectively, and if it turns out NOT to be gas related, it doesn't mask any symptoms. Works in a about 30 min.

            I know you are suspecting dehydration, but when they are uncomfortable, this product has brought comfort to me.

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            • #7
              Colic and choke can look a lot alike, in my experience. Is it possible the horse has a chronic choke problem that is causing the symptoms? The horse could also have throat damage from choke to cause the swollen throat. Just a thought, and may not be relevant to your situation. Most people have never seen a horse with choke, and even seasoned horse owners have been know to mistake one for the other.

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              • #8
                My suggestion was to investigate a lipoma, because sometimes tumours that are semi-strangling can do this, but you have already x-rayed....
                Have you tried putting him on a bland diet, like mostly grass hay (or soaked grass hay pellets, depending on his dentition)? Some feeds, like alfalfa and fresh grass, and perhaps senior feed, seem to really aggravate some gassy horses. I have one of them and he just gets grass hay and a ration balancer (he's a pretty easy keeper), otherwise we have problems.
                Good luck to you.
                As Peter, Paul, and Mary say, a dragon lives forever.

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                • #9
                  If keeping your horse hydrated would help, I love a product called Horse Quencher. Its a flavoring you ad to water that causes them to drink.

                  I rough board my horses and have no electricity. Though I have finally figured a way to keep water troughs mostly ice free, I still do get very concerned about water consumption in freezing weather, especially for my 32yr old.

                  In freezing weather, every morning I make each horse a 5 gallon bucket of hot water, a handful of oats and a big pinch of Horse Quencher and watch as they drink the entire bucket down. Then later before I leave for the day, I make them another one and they usually drink about 2 gallons. Plus their breakfast is hot steaming mash of alfalfa cubes. But the Horse Quencher really works well. I like personally witnessing my horses put away 7-9 gallons.

                  If gassiness is the issue, I agree about changing hay source. Timothy makes my morgan very gassy and he will have frequent small gas colics if its too large a part of his diet.

                  Its not so much the hay type, its the way it was grown and then cut/cured. In my area, Timothy tends to like cooler weather so tends to be higher in certain sugars that can ferment in the gut.... causing gas.

                  I accidentally discovered that teaspoon of ground ginger every day helped dramatically reduce his gassiness.
                  Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.

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                  • #10
                    Is it possible that he has some kind of allergy causing the throat swelling? Are you feeding any soy-based feed? I have one prone to gassy colics and they've become less of an issue since I took him off of soy.
                    "One person's cowboy is another person's blooming idiot" -- katarine

                    Spay and neuter. Please.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by JoanR View Post
                      Colic and choke can look a lot alike, in my experience. Is it possible the horse has a chronic choke problem that is causing the symptoms? The horse could also have throat damage from choke to cause the swollen throat. Just a thought, and may not be relevant to your situation. Most people have never seen a horse with choke, and even seasoned horse owners have been know to mistake one for the other.
                      THIS! My gelding would choke on hay pellets, and EVERY time, he acted like he was colicing.

                      The first time I thought he was colicking because he was laying down, restless, etc. I realized it was choke when I went to administer banamine paste and discovered his mouht chock full of hay pellets.

                      I would start making your mare's feed into soup and see if it makes a difference, and also have the vet check her throat.
                      "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."

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                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Thanks so much for the great suggestions! I have often wondered if he was actually choking instead of colic. Also I did look into allergies. I had him tested and nothing really jumped out. I am beginning to wonder if alfalfa has something to do with it. He is fed orchard grass hay. I have two different loads- one with light alfalfa and some with none. It seems that his last irritation coincided with him having some of the alfalfa mix.
                        Also his teeth are in good condition and he has had them floated yearly.
                        Has anyone had a similar problem, or think this could be a factor?
                        Thanks again!!

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                        • #13
                          I would cover all dry grain/pellets w/ water and soak for 10 min. prior to feeding. This would eliminate the dehydration problem and may also take care of the choking problem. It's a simple thing and gets so much more water into them.
                          "There is no fundamental difference between man and animals in their ability to feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery." - Charles Darwin

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by CrowneDragon View Post
                            My suggestion was to investigate a lipoma, because sometimes tumours that are semi-strangling can do this, but you have already x-rayed....
                            Have you tried putting him on a bland diet, like mostly grass hay (or soaked grass hay pellets, depending on his dentition)? Some feeds, like alfalfa and fresh grass, and perhaps senior feed, seem to really aggravate some gassy horses. I have one of them and he just gets grass hay and a ration balancer (he's a pretty easy keeper), otherwise we have problems.
                            Good luck to you.
                            Hey CrowneDragon - a bit of a hijack here but my horse is coming off 1 week colic surgery for gas colic. Fortunately no resection. He's never had a history of digestive issues until this episode (now 14) Vets put him on Fibergized but said a senior feed would be okay; hes recouping under the care of another vet. So I'm curious why vet say senior and your experience has been the senior makes them gassy. Any imput from your experience appreciated.

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                            • #15
                              I have a 22 yr old TB with similar issues. Have been struggling with mild colic episodes frequently for the past couple of years. He has been to the clinic for thorough evaluation twice, without them really figuring out what's wrong ($3000 to $5000 in bills each time). Am currently working with an equine nutritionist, but that isn't helping much because he won't eat what she recommends. Am still working on modifying diet. Most recent addition is ground flax seed (stabilized, Omega Max by Triple Crown), since he won't eat flax oil (her recommendation). She recommended chopped hay, have tried 3 versions, he won't eat them (the mini likes them....). Switched from TC Senior to Blue Seal Sentinel Senior, he seems to like that better. He is currently on the Blue Seal Sentinal Senior, with 4000 IU of Natural Vit E, just started the flax seed. He was on Neigh Lox (for antacid) but he hates it, so am going to switch him back to Tract Gard (which he used to have previously, I don't remember him disliking that). Also he is on Equiotic (a probiotic). Am about to try Equishure (KER), which the feed store recommended for reducing hind gut acidity. Also considering trying ABCs plus, recommended by acupuncturist. My horse also was diagnosed with Cushings this summer, so is on Pergolide. Good luck with yours!

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                              • #16
                                Originally posted by gottagrey View Post
                                Hey CrowneDragon - a bit of a hijack here but my horse is coming off 1 week colic surgery for gas colic. Fortunately no resection. He's never had a history of digestive issues until this episode (now 14) Vets put him on Fibergized but said a senior feed would be okay; hes recouping under the care of another vet. So I'm curious why vet say senior and your experience has been the senior makes them gassy. Any imput from your experience appreciated.
                                Not really sure, other than the high digestibility and the fact that they usually contain a fair bit of alfalfa and/or soy, both legumes, which seem to exacerbate gas. Sometimes its difficult to tell just what you're feeding, because unless it is a fixed-formula feed, often the ingredients read as "fiber products" or some such.
                                In my experience, it is only certain horses that get gassy from these feeds, so if your horse has previously been fine, it probably isn't much worth worrying about. I know that most of the post-op colic surgery horses at UC Davis go on Equine Senior at some point, or at least they did when I was there.
                                As Peter, Paul, and Mary say, a dragon lives forever.

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