MSD Manual

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Common Causes of Colic (Abdominal Pain) in Horses

Common Causes of Colic (Abdominal Pain) in Horses

  • The wall of the intestine is stretched excessively by gas, fluid, or partially digested food.

  • There is tension on the tissue that supports the intestines (mesentery) due to the intestine moving out of its normal position.

  • There is inflammation or ulceration in the stomach or intestine.

  • Part of the intestine has reduced blood flow, most often as a result of passing through a hernia or severe twisting of the intestine.

  • Inflammation develops which involves either the entire intestinal wall or the covering of the intestine.

  • The intestine and/or its blood supply have become obstructed by feed, sand (if horses are fed on the ground where soil is sandy), parasites, or other foreign material.

  • Enteroliths (rock-like concretions of material) have developed in the large intestine.

  • Unexplained or unknown causes