Colic: What Should I Do Until the Vet Gets Here?

An equine critical care specialist shares advice for dealing with a colic while waiting for your vet.

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What should I do if my horse colics?
If your horse seems more comfortable walking, then continue to walk him until the vet arrives. Walking will promote gastrointestinal motility more than standing in a stall. | Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse
Q.If my horse is colicking, what should I do until the vet gets here? I’ve heard I should walk my horse or put him in the trailer to encourage him to poop. Are these good ideas?

—Ryan, via e-mail

A.It is always a scary time to discover your own horse showing signs of colic. Fortunately, the majority of colic episodes are mild and will resolve with treatment by your veterinarian at home.

My recommendation for what to do before the vet arrives depends somewhat on the severity of the colic signs, but generally speaking, keeping your horse up and preventing him from rolling is a good idea

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Written by:

Diana Hassel, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVS, ACVECC, is an associate professor of equine emergency surgery and critical care medicine at Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. She’s a graduate of the University of California, Davis, and has specialized in equine colic both in clinical practice and in research for the past 17 years.

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