Preparing is the single best thing a horse owner can do to increase a horse’s chance of surviving a sudden colic episode, says Michael Fugaro, VMD, Dipl. ACVS, owner of Mountain Pointe Equine Veterinary Services and a surgeon at B.W. Furlong and Associates, both in New Jersey.
“Many cases can rapidly progress and deteriorate,” he says. “A successful outcome is often influenced by aggressive and immediate veterinary medical/surgical intervention; time is of the essence, and minutes count. During these colic events, owners will be required to make fast decisions in the midst of a stressful and emotional situation.”
Therefore, Fugaro believes every horse owner should know the answers to the following questions ahead of a colic scenario:
- Would I refer my colicking horse to a hospital for medical/surgical treatment?
- To what facility would I refer? Am I comfortable with that facility and its proximity?
- How would I transport the horse?
- How would I pay for the procedure?
- Is the horse insured (major medical and/or mortality)? Do I have the appropriate information to contact the insurance company immediately in the event of an emergency?
- Does the horse have multiple owners that would need to agree on medical decisions? How would I contact them immediately?
- Am I prepared for the horse’s aftercare when he is discharged from the hospital?
- What factors (age, monetary value, current occupation, etc.) might influence my decision to pursue medical/surgical treatment for this horse?
- What are my expectations for the horse and his usefulness after the procedure?
- What prognosis would I be comfortable with for this horse?
“Veterinarians are responsible for providing the potential diagnostics, treatments, and prognosis for your horse, but the ultimate decision of which route to pursue falls upon the owner,” Fugaro says. “A horse owner can use these answers in the decision-making process when the incident occurs in an effort to eliminate emotional influences. Very often, emotion-based decisions are not truly reflective of an individual’s normal reasoning.”