Impaction Colic: Consistent Management Reduces Risk

A horse's risk of impaction might be elevated by decreased exercise, restricted water intake, administration of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, and poor dentition, said Amy E. Plummer, DVM, Dipl. ACVS, in a recent Veterinary Clinics of North America: Equine Practice review of intestinal impactions.

It is important to remember that impactions are not the only types of colic, so a veterinarian should be consulted to diagnose the cause of an individual horse's colic. Most impactions are treated medically, but surgery can be required if the horse does not respond to medical treatment or if the horse is too painful to treat medically, Plummer said.

"Colic is common in horses and it is important to know the signs," Plummer said. "Owners should call their veterinarian if their horse is colicking. Owners should educate themselves on the risk factors for colic/impactions and do things to minimize these for their horse."

Owners can help by keeping the horse's routine regular. Plenty of exercise or time in the pasture and fresh water should decrease a horses' risk of developing an impaction.

"When it is necessary to change a horses' diet, do so gradually so that their digestive tract can have time to adjust," Plummer suggested. "Make sure to have your veterinarian do yearly dental exams and float the horse's teeth if necessary. Owners should discuss their individual horse with their veterinarian and identify things regarding management that can be done to limit a horses' risk for colic and impactions."

Treatment options have recently advanced, with new developments in the works.

�There are constantly new treatments being discovered and new ways to diagnose and manage colic," Plummer noted. "New surgical techniques have been developed to minimize post-operative complications and other advancements involve new medications. Therapies such as hyperbaric oxygen therapy are also being studied in the treatment of colic."

The report, "Impactions of the small and large intestines," was published in the August issue of the Veterinary Clinics of North America: Equine Practice. The abstract is available on PubMed

Disclaimer: Seek the advice of a qualified veterinarian before proceeding with any diagnosis, treatment, or therapy.