Monthly Archives: August 2015

  • Complications after colic

    Written By:Erin Malone, DVM, University of Minnesota

    Most colic episodes will fully resolve with no long lasting consequences. However, if toxins are released into the abdominal cavity or bloodstream, or if colic surgery is required, the horse will be at risk for other problems.

    Certain bacteria carry toxins. Many of these are found in the gut normally. If the toxin load overwhelms the usual defense mechanisms or if the gut is damaged and lets the toxins leak out, the horse can become ill. These horses may become shocky (poor blood flow causing an elevated heart rate and cool limbs), have reddened or purplish gums or red lines around the teeth, and may seem very depressed. Continue reading

  • Purchasing and using certified hay

    Written By: Krishona Martinson, PhD, U of M

    There is a growing demand for the use of certified noxious weed seed free forage as a prevention to limit the spread of noxious weeds. Noxious weeds compete against native plants, degrade ecosystems, and ultimately pose a threat to wildlife. A common characteristic of all noxious weeds are their aggressive, competitive behavior. Typically, they steal moisture, nutrients, and sunlight from surrounding plants, and can rob waterfowl and mammals of their food sources, nesting areas, and access to water. Continue reading

  • Colic Examinations

    Written By: Erin Malone, DVM, University of Minnesota

    When your veterinarian arrives to examine a colic, she/he will try to determine the severity and the general type of colic. It is very unusual to be able to diagnose the exact cause of colic, but she/he may be able to determine if it is more likely to be an impaction or gas colic, or if it may involve damaged bowel or toxemia. A routine physical examination will help determine the horse's cardiovascular status and identify signs of shock or toxemia. If the horse is very uncomfortable, the veterinarian may give a short acting analgesic/tranquilizer to aid in performing the examination. Depending upon the situation, the veterinarian may then pass a nasogastric tube (from the nostril to the stomach), perform a rectal examination and/or evaluate the abdominal fluid by doing a "belly tap". The nasogastric tube is passed to make sure there is no fluid build-up in the stomach. If there is fluid, this can be a life-saving measure (to prevent rupture of the stomach). If there is minimal fluid, the tube can be used to give mineral oil to the horse to lubricate any impaction. It may also be used to give water to the horse if it seems to be dehydrated. This has the added benefit of stimulating gut motility. A rectal examination allows the veterinarian to palpate structures in the caudal half of the abdomen. Sometimes an impaction can actually be felt. A rectal examination is always somewhat risky, because of the potential for tearing the rectum. Finally, if your veterinarian is concerned about infection in the abdominal cavity or about damage to the intestines, she/he may stick a needle in the abdomen and try to collect fluid for analysis. This test is most useful for determining if the horse needs surgery and is often not performed unless there is a problem getting the horse to a referral institution or if the colic persists. If you have taken your horse to an equine hospital, other bloodwork and tests (such as ultrasound and radiographs) may also be performed. Continue reading

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