10 Things to Know About Gas Colic
Earlier this week, McCoy was showing signs of gas colic. The symptoms were subtle (mainly excessive yawning), but I’ve developed a fairly good ‘colic radar’, and fortunately, we were able to resolve the issue before things got too bad. After a short acupressure session and a walk (and a big drink of water), she passed a good amount of gas she went back to eating her hay.
Over the years, I’ve had horses experience gas colic on occasion, and what I’ve learned to associate it with is a change in forage. The last few incidents have occurred when I was attempting to switch my horses to a different pasture. I do this gradually, allowing them into the new pasture for a short period of time and slowly increasing that time, but our grass is different this year–we’ve had a very wet summer by most standards and very lush grass. Evidently, I need to be even more careful as I make these changes.
Chances are, many of you have dealt with gas colic as well (whether you recognized it as that or not). Here are 10 things to know about this condition:
1.) Gas colic one of the most common reasons for horses to show signs of abdominal pain, but fortunately, has a very good prognosis for survival.
2.) If the horse’s flank region is distended or swollen in appearance, the gas is likely trapped in the cecum or large colon. If the flanks are not distended, the gas is probably located in the small intestine.
3.) Complications from gas colic can occur if the distended bowl becomes displaced or twists upon itself. Though many owners worry that rolling will cause horses with gas colic to ‘twist’ a bowel, the likelihood of this happening isn’t too great.
4.) There is strong evidence linking gas colic with a change in feed (which certainly includes forage, as has often been the case with my horses.)
5.) Parasite infection has also been linked with gas colic, so fecal egg counts are always a good idea if your horse is showing signs of being gassy. (plan to do my FEC’s again this weekend!)
7.) Walking your horse and allowing him to lie down (if he wants) can be beneficial with this type of colic.
8.) Make sure your horse always has access to water. Dehydration can also lead to gas buildup.
9.) Be aware that one symptom of gas colic is stretching out like they need to urinate. The first time I (knowingly) experienced gas colic with a horse, this was the only symptom she showed.
10.) Don’t hesitate to get your vet involved. Even though it’s often the least serious type of colic, it can lead to greater problems (such as bowel displacement or a ‘twist’) in some instances.
Sources and Further Reading