Feeding Horses Before Laparoscopic Surgery

Fasting horses before laparoscopic surgery decreases the amount of gas in the intestines, which can prove beneficial.

No account yet? Register


Your horse is scheduled for laparoscopic surgery—an increasingly popular, minimally invasive surgical technique because of the rapid recoveries and decreased post-surgical complications compared with traditional “open” surgical approaches. Just like humans undergoing surgical procedures, horses are typically fasted prior to an operation. But how long should you keep a horse off feed before surgery, and why exactly is it necessary?

“Fasting horses before non-emergent laparoscopic surgeries decreases the amount of gas in the intestines, allowing better evaluation of the abdominal organs,” explained Qendrim Zebeli, Univ.-Prof. Dr.sc.agr., from the Institute of Animal Nutrition and Functional Plant Compounds, Department for Farm Animals and Veterinary Public Health, in Vienna, Austria, who recently published a review on the topic. “In addition, less gas distension decreases the risk of perforating the intestines when introducing the laparoscopic instruments into the abdomen. That said, there is a delicate balance in the feed/fast game because holding horses off feed for a prolonged period of time can predispose horses to typhlocolitis—an inflammation of the cecum and colon.

“Current fasting times for various laparoscopic surgeries vary from between 12 and 72 hours,” noted Zebeli

Create a free account with TheHorse.com to view this content.

TheHorse.com is home to thousands of free articles about horse health care. In order to access some of our exclusive free content, you must be signed into TheHorse.com.

Start your free account today!

Already have an account?
and continue reading.


Written by:

Stacey Oke, MSc, DVM, is a practicing veterinarian and freelance medical writer and editor. She is interested in both large and small animals, as well as complementary and alternative medicine. Since 2005, she’s worked as a research consultant for nutritional supplement companies, assisted physicians and veterinarians in publishing research articles and textbooks, and written for a number of educational magazines and websites.

Related Articles

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with

FREE weekly newsletters from TheHorse.com

Sponsored Content

Weekly Poll

sponsored by:

When do you begin to prepare/stock up on products/purchase products for these skin issues?
96 votes · 96 answers

Readers’ Most Popular

Sign In

Don’t have an account? Register for a FREE account here.

Need to update your account?

You need to be logged in to fill out this form

Create a free account with TheHorse.com!