Last Updated on March 5, 2023
While the veterinarian is always the first person to call when your horse has colic, many people will suggest their favorite awesome horse colic remedy to help ease your horse’s stomach ache. But can an awesome horse colic remedy ever work, or are they a myth? Let’s find out!
Colic in horses is one of the most common medical conditions that threaten the health of horses and ponies around the world. And while the vet is always the first person to call if you think your horse has colic, there may be a chance that a home remedy for colic in horses may be the solution. When it comes to colic in horses prevention is always better than the cure, but even the most well-cared-for horses and ponies can suffer from colic at some point during their lives!
If you own or care for horses and ponies, it is extremely important to familiarize yourself with the signs of colic and the best awesome horse colic remedy or treatment you can use. Any delay in treating colic can be fatal, so prompt recognition of the signs of colic can help you get assistance as soon as possible.
Whilst there is no real substitute for veterinary care, knowing the facts about the best natural horse colic remedy to use may help you to ease your horse’s discomfort while you wait for veterinary assistance to arrive.
How Much Beet Pulp to Feed for Weight Gain?
Beet pulp is a great choice for horses that need to put on weight or have difficulty staying at a healthy weight due to its soft texture and easy digestion. It also provides higher levels of energy than good-quality hay, it provides approximately 1,000 kcals per pound.
If you have a mature horse who is maintaining its current body weight, supplementing its regular ration with 4 pounds of beet pulp each day will likely result in a daily weight gain of approximately 0.5 pounds. Thus, you should adjust your horse’s feeding program to accommodate the incorporation of beet pulp
Beet pulp, being a fiber supplement rather than a grain, can be fed to your horse in any quantity desired without exceeding 50% of his forage intake, i.e., for every pound of forage removed from the horse’s diet add a pound of beet pulp.
What is Colic in Horses?
Colic is a broad term used to describe gastrointestinal discomfort in horses colic is not a disease at all but is a symptom of digestive problems. The anatomy of the horse’s digestive system makes it impossible for them to vomit when they are in a state of gastrointestinal distress. Their complex internal digestive system can be prone to blockages or other problems, which often lead to colic symptoms.
Whilst most mammals – including human babies – can suffer from colic symptoms, they are particularly dangerous for the horse. The cause of a colic symptom may be due to something minor, such as mild diarrhea, but they can also be an indication of something much more severe like an intestinal blockage. Because horses cannot vomit, any blockage to the digestive system can quickly lead to distended intestines, septicemia, and even death.
Awesome Horse Colic Remedies
OK, so we have to be straight with you here – there is no single awesome horse colic remedy that will work in all situations. The number one single best way to help a horse with colic is to call your veterinarian, and attempting any treatment without veterinary assistance may endanger the life of your horse.
Horses with colic can also be quite unpredictable and dangerous in their behavior, and for your safety, it may be best to leave them well alone while you wait for the vet to arrive.
However, in cases of mild discomfort, there are some tricks you can try to make your horse more comfortable until veterinary help is on the scene. Have a read of the suggestions below and see if you can find an awesome horse colic remedy for the next time your horse has a mild tummy ache!
According to the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science, horses have very keen senses of smell and aromatherapy has been proven an effective home remedy for a variety of ailments. Horses with colic will be suffering from high levels of stress, and this can lead to prolonged recovery times following a bout of colic.
To keep your horse calm in the event of colic, the best essential oil to use is lavender, to help reduce the horse’s anxiety and calm their racing hearts. Doing so will give you and the horse some peace of mind until the vet arrives.
Neat essential oils can be toxic to horses, so make sure you follow the guidance of a qualified aromatherapist on the best way to use aromatherapy on your horse.
According to Horse Talk NZ, herbs like Dandelion, Valerian Root, Chamomile, Meadowstreet, and Peppermint, can be used as a natural remedy to help calm inflammation and aid digestion in horses. These five herbs have anti-inflammatory properties and may help to stimulate the digestive system in horses that are showing signs of gastrointestinal distress. The use of these herbs should always be done under the supervision of your veterinarian.
Equine Massage and Acupressure
One of the aspects of colic that makes horses so uncomfortable is slow-moving, distended intestines. Equine massage and acupuncture are both non-invasive therapies that can stimulate the gastrointestinal tract. Equine Massage and Acupressure can calm the nervous system and reduce anxiety, thus making them a good tool to have in your colic arsenal.
If you call your veterinarian because your horse has colic, they will most likely ask you to walk your horse until they arrive at your barn. Walking helps to get the gut moving and may help to ease digestive discomfort. So, if your horse is happy to do so, take it for a walk around on a soft surface such as grass or a sand arena.
However, horses that are in intense pain and showing severe behaviors like thrashing should not be walked, as it can be dangerous for both horses and caretakers. In this situation, leave the horse well alone until assistance arrives.
Causes Of Colic In Horses
There are four major kinds of colic in horses:
- Spasmodic Colic: Spasmodic Colic is also known as gas colic because it occurs when there is a build-up of gas in the equine digestive system. It generally results from stress, change in diet, inadequate amounts of hay or fresh grass, or parasites.
- Impaction Colic: Impaction colic is caused by a build-up of food material in the gastrointestinal system, leading to a full or partial blockage. This can occur in various parts of the digestive system, most commonly in the large intestine. Impactions can occur with changes in diet, dehydration, overeating, or a change in exercise. This is the most common cause of winter colic in horses, due to a combination of reduced mobility and water intake and increased hay consumption.
- Sand Colic: Sand colic occurs in horses and ponies kept in dry lots with very short or no grass. In this situation, they ingest too much sand whilst searching for food on the ground. This accumulates over time, leading to an uncomfortable build-up in the digestive tract.
- Twisted Gut: This is the type of colic that all horse owners fear, as it can be fatal if left untreated. A twisted gut can occur for a variety of reasons, and will quickly lead to a build-up of gas and liquid within the intestines. In many situations, horses with a twisted gut will need surgery to release the trapped intestine.
Signs and Symptoms of Colic in Horses
The problem with colic in horses is that, while there are multiple causes of colic, they all come with similar signs and symptoms. This is why it is essential to call a veterinarian whenever any colic symptoms are seen, as they will be able to assess what might be causing it.
The most common signs and symptoms of colic in horses are:
- Lying down more than usual
- Rolling excessively
- Kicking at the belly
- Looking at the flanks
- Stretching out from front to back, or sitting on their hind legs
- Lack of appetite
- Lack of manure production
- Visible bloating
How Long Does It Take For A Horse To Recover From Colic?
The time it takes for a horse to recover from colic will depend on a range of factors. These include the cause and severity of the colic, the age of the horse, and how quickly it was treated.
For a mild case of spasmodic colic, symptoms may resolve as soon as the medication is administered by the vet. In this situation, the horse should be fully recovered and able to resume normal work after a couple of days.
In severe cases of colic that require surgical treatment, recovery times are much longer. In this situation, the horse will need to be rested and receive nursing care for three to six months.
How Soon Can You Feed A Horse After Colic?
If your horse has suffered from a bout of colic, your veterinarian will be able to advise you how soon you can feed your horse. Normally you will be advised to wait until the colic symptoms have resolved, and until the normal gut function has returned. This means that your veterinarian will check that good levels of intestinal movement can be detected and that the horse is passing droppings normally.
In some situations, a small feed may be given to a horse with colic to try and improve gastrointestinal motility. This should only ever be done under the advice of your veterinarian, as feeding a horse with colic can make the situation worse.
Conclusion – Awesome Horse Colic Remedy
Given that colic is a common ailment in horses, it’s a condition that is important you familiarize yourself with, especially if you’re a horse owner. Calling your vet when you observe any signs of colic is always the first step you should take, however, any steps that you can take to ease the horse’s pain and anxiety, will help to keep the situation from going from bad to worse. If you’re worried about what to do if your horse gets colic, here are some of the preparation steps you can follow:
- Come up with a vet-approved colic plan
- Stock your stable with essential oils and herbs that they may recommend
- Reach out to licensed equine massage therapists to learn the best ways of treating a colicking horse
- Keep your horses on a routine when it comes to feeding, turnout, and exercise
Do you have any questions? Feel free to leave them in the comments below!
Can horse colic go away on its own?
The severity of horse colic can vary significantly from case to case, and sometimes colic symptoms may resolve without any medical treatment. This is more likely to occur if the horse colic is mild and caused by something such as gas accumulation or impaction of the large colon or caecum. If horse colic is caused by parasites, mild colic symptoms may disappear after anti-parasitic treatment.
The horse's age can also be a factor in whether colic goes away on its own. While colic in very young horses (less than 6 months old) is often due to congenital defects and requires treatment, colic in older horses is more likely to be caused by a problem such as impaction or gas accumulation and may resolve without any specific treatment.
It's important to pay attention to any signs of horse colic as they may not go away on its own and can progress to a life-threatening condition. They will be able to determine the cause of colic and provide the appropriate treatment.
If horse colic goes untreated, what could happen?
If horse colic goes untreated, it can lead to a number of serious health problems, including rupture of the horse's stomach or intestines. This can lead to serious hemorrhaging, shock, and even death. The horse may also develop recurring episodes of colic due to chronic conditions like gut-related diseases, parasites, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), intestinal displacement (colonic impactions), abdominal abscesses, or scarring of the intestines. Treatment of horse colic is essential to preventing these health problems.
What do you feed a horse with colic?
Owners often ask what horse feed they should give to a horse with colic. If you suspect your horse has colic, consult your veterinarian before feeding him or her anything. The vet may recommend that the horse fast for 24 hours and only then slowly reintroduce hay, grass, and water. The horse may also be given small amounts of light feed such as a bran mash.
Horses with colic should not be fed grain or given other concentrated feeds until they pass normal droppings and their appetite returns. Soybean meal should never be fed to horses with colic as it can make the condition worse. The horse should also not be allowed to eat straw, wood shavings, or other horse bedding as they can block the horse's digestive system and cause more problems.
How long does it take for a horse to recover from colic?
Most horses with colic recover within a few days if they are properly treated. However, some horses can take weeks or even months to fully recover. Horses that develop chronic colic may require surgery to correct the problem.
Horses that recover from colic may develop dietary sensitivities or allergies that can cause the horse to suffer recurring bouts of colic. Owners should consult their veterinarian to develop a diet that is best for their horse.
Michael Dehaan is a passionate horse owner, horse rider, and lover of all things equine. He has been around horses since he was a child, and has grown to become an expert in the field. He has owned and ridden a variety of horses of different breeds, and has trained many to compete in shows and competitions. He is an experienced horseman, having worked with and competed many horses, including his own. He is an active member of the equestrian community, participating in events and teaching riding lessons.