Impaction Colic: Blocking the Way

Impaction colic is caused by a blockage that forms due to feed material obstruction in the large colon. Large colon impactions make up as much as 8-10% of all colic, but the cause in a large majority of the cases is not known.
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There are moments spent with our horses that are often taken for granted: The welcoming whicker as you approach with dinner, the snuffling in the feeder for tasty bits and pieces, the melodic sound of chewing as your horse enjoys every morsel, and the sweet smell of hay as it is crushed between your horse’s teeth. When these ritual sounds and senses of the day go missing, there is a sense of dread.

Your horse isn’t interested in coming in for dinner. Out in the paddock, he is occasionally pawing the ground, half-heartedly. With a sigh, he plops to the ground, lying quietly. After a few minutes, that doesn’t seem to suit him either. He rises, shakes his neck and head as if to throw off a cloak of discomfort, then stands despondently.

Although this presentation might be typical of a horse that simply isn’t feeling well, it is also quite typical of a horse with intestinal discomfort from impaction colic.

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Written by:

Nancy S. Loving, DVM, owns Loving Equine Clinic in Boulder, Colorado, and has a special interest in managing the care of sport horses. Her book, All Horse Systems Go, is a comprehensive veterinary care and conditioning resource in full color that covers all facets of horse care. She has also authored the books Go the Distance as a resource for endurance horse owners, Conformation and Performance, and First Aid for Horse and Rider in addition to many veterinary articles for both horse owner and professional audiences.

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