Three Signs That Indicate Colic Is Critical  

Colic is the No. 1 killer of horses in the United States. The term encompasses any equine abdominal pain and it is the most-common reason why horses require emergency veterinary care. Though many colic cases are resolved with simple, on-farm medical management, some cases are critical.

Drs. Adelle Bowden, Gary England, Marnie Louise Brennan, Tim Mair, Wendy Furness, Sarah Freeman and John Burford reviewed the clinical notes from 941 colic cases seen by two major equine clinics in England. The study team was able to identify three “red flags” that indicated that a colic case was critical. “Critical” in this case means that the colic required medical or surgical in-hospital care or resulted in euthanasia or death.

There are three red flags were: an increased heart rate, increasing age and abnormal mucous membrane color. The study team determined that of the 941 cases, 225 (23.9 percent) were critical; 18 percent of the critical cases were euthanized and 1 percent of the cases died.

The researchers note that these three “red flag” parameters should be an essential component of the colicky horse’s initial assessment. The team suggests further research into the role a horse’s age plays in critical cases; clarification is needed on if older horses are more likely to have critical conditions or if owners are more likely to choose euthanasia instead of treatment in older horses.

Read more at HorseTalk.

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