Equine Colic Imitators

Many other conditions besides colic can cause coliclike signs. And as with colic, delayed treatment or misdiagnosis can have serious consequences. Here’s what you need to know.
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Equine Colic Imitators
Conditions affecting a variety of body systems can appear similar to colic, often because the horse is painful somewhere. | Photo: iStock

Is it abdominal pain or something else?

Discover your horse restless, pawing, and lying down repeatedly in his stall, and you might immediately think, “He’s colicking.”

Nine times out of 10, you’re probably right. But it’s important to understand that many, many other conditions besides colic can cause coliclike signs. And as with colic, delayed treatment or misdiagnosis can have serious consequences.

“For many of these conditions, if you were to inadvertently take a horse to (exploratory colic) surgery, you might very well might make the animal worse, not to mention spend a lot of money unnecessarily,” says Barbara Dallap Schaer, VMD, Dipl. ACVS, ACVECC, associate professor of emergency medicine and critical care at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, in Kennett Square

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Written by:

Alexandra Beckstett, a native of Houston, Texas, is a lifelong horse owner who has shown successfully on the national hunter/jumper circuit and dabbled in hunter breeding. After graduating from Duke University, she joined Blood-Horse Publications as assistant editor of its book division, Eclipse Press, before joining The Horse. She was the managing editor of The Horse for nearly 14 years and is now editorial director of EquiManagement and My New Horse, sister publications of The Horse.

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