When your horse colics in winter

Impactions are the most common cause of cold-weather colics but horses can develop any type of digestive upset at any time of year.

Although impaction colics are most associated with winter weather, a horse can suffer from any type of colic any type of year, so it’s important to not take a “wait and see approach” in the hopes it will resolve itself.

Winter colics are often caused by impactions resulting from dry forage diets combined with reduced water consumption.

Whenever your horse shows signs of colic in winter, call your veterinarian and let him know what’s going on. He may head out immediately, or—based on your description of the signs—he may recommend some rehydration strategies and ask for an update in a few hours.

What you don’t want to do is medicate your horse before consulting with your veterinarian. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications can be very good at masking the pain of even serious colics. You may think you’ve managed a simple impaction successfully when you are only prolonging the diagnosis of a strangulation, which requires prompt diagnosis and surgery for the best outcomes. And if you have the veterinarian come to look at a horse you’ve already medicated, he might not be able to get a full assessment because of the effects of the drug.

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