Gypsy's Colic

Many of you have read about Holly's fatal colic and have asked Gypsy's colic episode that she experienced last month. I want to provide some information on how her situation was different and why she was able to survive, while Holly was not.

We recognized Gypsy's colic within the hour that it occurred. We had been out there earlier and Gypsy was behaving normally, however, Jessica went out for lessons an hour later and found Gypsy laying in a stall with the door wide open. She was soaked in sweat and very dehydrated. We gave her an oral tube of electrolyte paste and administered a dose of Banamine immediately. We weren't sure if she was colicking or just dehydrated, so we decided to treat her for both. Because she was so dehydrated, we decided to put her in the backyard to keep a close eye on her. A big rainstorm was rolling through, so the grass in the backyard was extremely moist. She drank a little, but as she munched on the wet grass and soaked alfalfa cubes, she actually rehydrated herself. She responded nicely to the Banamine. She didn't seem to be experiencing any discomfort, so I was really hoping that we were out of the weeds.

Her Banamine dose wore of about 12 hours later, which was 3 am. I checked on her often and noticed that she was laying down, although she was not rolling, she was not interested in getting up when I went near her, and she was moaning more than usual to get up, so I decided to take her to the emergency vet.

Upon arrival, they did an exam and determined that she was clicking and that it was in fact an impaction of the large intestine (much less fatal than small intestine). Because it was in the large intestine, they pumped epsom salt and water into her stomach, this helps break up the impaction and allow it to pass through. She was a little dehydrated so they also gave her an IV and some other medication to help her get through any pain.

They sent me home and said they would call me around 9 am with an update. When the vet called, she explained that Gypsy was not in any pain and seemed to be improving. However, we were still waiting for lots and lots of manure.

She was taken off of feed completely, as most clicking horses are. No colicking horse should eat because the food they ingest can cause additional dehydration. However, because we were sure that Gypsy was dehydrated, and we were not sure she was clicking, we decided to let her eat only extremely moist foods that would increase her hydration rather than reduce it.

Colicky horses must remain off of food until they have emptied their gut completely to be sure not to cause additional dehydration. The gut requires a lot of hydration to digest food, and if the entire body is dehydrated, the gut cannot properly process food, resulting in it getting stuck. This is what causes an impaction, which is a one type of colic. With that said, once food is reintroduce after a colic, horses can colic again.

Fortunately, Gypsy's digestive system cleared out and there were several piles of manure within 12 hours of her being at the Vet's office. The vet began reintroducing food and we decided to leave Gypsy there in case she was sensitive to the food and clicked again. Luckily, she was good to go and we were able to bring her home a few days later.

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