BenBen is a 16 year old Standardbred gelding who has been basically healthy his whole life. He was recently treated for a hoof abscess and kept in his stall, even though he is usually allowed turn out 24/7. On this cold January morning he was found lying down quietly, and he was not at all interested in the small handful of grain that he is usually very excited about. His hay was also left untouched, which is very unlike him. His astute owner encouraged the horse to get up and then she took his temperature which was a normal 100.1 ° F (normal is 99 °-101°). She called her vet believing that the horse might be…


The owner was concerned that her horse might be colicky, but took his temperature because she knows that a fever might also be the cause of him not wanting to eat.  Colic is any type of gastrointestinal pain, with many causes.  It is important to have a vet examine the horse to see if the cause can be determined, so that the correct treatment is administered.

The vet came out and found out that the horse had a slightly high heart rate (56 beats per minute). He did not have any gut sounds at all when she listened to his lower abdomen with a stethoscope.  He was given an IV injection of Banamine, which caused him to look a little brighter, and interested in eating. The veterinarian also palpated him rectally. She was able to remove a small amount of dry manure from his rectum, and was also able to feel through the rectal wall distended large intestine full of dry digesting food.  She diagnosed the cause of his colic as an impaction of digested food material.  Most likely this occurred because the horse was not moving around as much as he was used to (due to the foot abscess), and perhaps because the cold weather discouraged him from drinking enough. 

The veterinarian treated the horse by placing a tube into his stomach through his nose.  After this about 2 gallons of water and about a half gallon of mineral oil was pumped into his stomach.  In some horses multiple tubings are necessary in order to break down the impaction. It is also important to get the horse out walking and moving around which also helps to stimulate the horse's intestines. The horse was not allowed any food until he was pooping adequately and the vet repalpated him to determine that he was impaction free. Generally the pain from impaction colics can be controlled with low amounts of the anti inflammatory, Banamine.

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