Older Horses At Higher Risk For Colic, Euthanasia

Colic is the No. 1 cause of death in horses and it disproportionately affects older horses. Surgery isn’t always the best option for elderly equines because of the high cost and generally less-successful outcomes, so many older horses that colic are euthanized.

Colic, which is a catch-all term for abdominal pain, can be caused by a variety of things, including gas buildup, a blockage or twisting of the gut. Though minor colic can be handled with medical intervention and pain relievers, other episodes require surgery to resolve.

A study out of Germany looked at nearly 1,000 horses that were admitted to a veterinary clinic for symptoms of colic. The average age was 19.9 years old and the majority of the horses were treated medically; these horses had a better survival rate than those horses that underwent surgery.

The most-common type of colic for horses between 21 and 29 years old were strangulating lipomas. This occurs when a fatty tumor develops and becomes so heavy that it weighs down part of the horse’s digestive tract, sometimes looping around areas and strangulating either the intestines or the blood flow to them. There is no way to prevent these types tumors.

However, there are some risk factors for colic that can be mitigated by feeding and management changes. A review of colic studies in 2019 reported that horses that crib have a higher risk of colic, specifically epiploic foramen entrapment, where part of the small intestine are strangulated. Horses that spend most of their time in a stall are at higher risk of colic episodes than those that live out or those that spend more time on pasture. Changes in stabling also increase colic risk.

Changes in hay or grain increase the risk of colic, as does feeing higher amounts of grain. The type of hay fed also increases colic risk; horses fed coastal hay and alfalfa are more likely to colic than horse fed other types of hay.

Dental issues, to which older horses are particularly susceptible, increase colic risk. It’s imperative that horse owners work closely with an equine dentist and adjust the horse’s diet as necessary to mitigate the risk of colic. This might include changing feed or hay options or soaking feed. The addition of a ration balancer or oil may be necessary if an older horse is struggling to maintain weight.

Colic will affect one in 10 horses during their lifetime; older horses tend to have less-favorable outcomes. Adjusting elderly horse management, feeding and care can help decrease colic risk.

Read more at Horse Sport.

The post Older Horses At Higher Risk For Colic, Euthanasia appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

DYFD Winter - 300x90

Comments are closed.