Horses, just like humans, can experience a wide range of illnesses. One of these illnesses is known as colic, which appears to affect horses more so than other mammals. Colic can be extremely painful and even fatal if left untreated. There are several natural home remedies for horse colic, so keep reading to find out which ones work best.
Colic is a general term used to describe abdominal pain. In horses, however, colic is a serious condition of extreme abdominal discomfort that requires immediate veterinary assistance. A horse that is experiencing the pain of colic might paw, roll, and have trouble defecating.
Common Symptoms Of Colic Include:
- Inability to defecate
- Loss of appetite
- Lack of normal gut sounds
- Sweating and increased heart rate
- Urge for constant urination
Types Of Colic In Horses
A few different factors can cause colic. Generally speaking, there are 3 main types of colic known to afflict horses. If you notice your horse showing signs of colic, one of these types is likely to blame.
Gas colic is caused by excessive gas buildup in the horse's digestive system. This can cause symptoms of stress and abdominal pain in your horse. Gas colic is thought to commonly be caused by a sudden change in a horse's feed.
This form of colic is marked by gastrointestinal distress caused by physical obstruction of the digestive system. These blockages are often caused by hardened dry clumps of food but can also be caused if your horse consumes a foreign object. Sand or dirt are common examples of foreign materials that can potentially cause impaction colic.
Spasmodic colic occurs when the stomach and digestive system muscles contract, causing pain and difficulties defecting. It is commonly caused by stress, similar to common indigestion in humans. Spasmodic colic can often be effectively treated by a veterinarian.
What Causes Colic In Horses?
Horses evolved on a different diet than the one they receive today. A horse’s digestive system is built to eat high quantities of low energy foods like grass over a long period throughout the day. The large surface area of their digestive tract allows for rapid absorption of these low energy foods, providing readily available energy for the horse’s physically demanding lifestyle.
Modern-day domestication of horses introduces several potential illnesses in horses due to the dramatic change in diet. Horses are expected to eat a different diet on an entirely different schedule than what they are used to.
It is important to understand how a horse’s digestive system works. Horses cannot throw up indigestible foods or toxins, which can result in gastrointestinal distress. Additionally, horses absorb nutrients from ingested products fairly quickly. Ingestion of toxins or pathogens can enter the bloodstream before getting broken down, making the body highly susceptible to illness.
Horses produce gas as a byproduct of the fermentation of the foods they eat. As a result, excessive gas accumulation can cause abdominal pain.
Causes of colic:
- Excess gas accumulation in the colon
- Accumulation of indigestible material in the digestive tract
- Ingestion of parasites
- Ingestion of sands
- Dehydration (fluids prevent hardening of ingested materials)
Natural Home Remedies For Horse Colic
Full of vitamins and minerals, dandelion is a great home remedy for horse colic. The calcium, iron, potassium, and beta carotene in the herb can help boost digestion and relieve an upset stomach.
Chamomile is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. It also promotes relaxation in the body, which can aid in the digestive process. This can be beneficial for any horse experiencing colic. Horses also tend to prefer the taste of chamomile.
While valerian root is used as a sedative for humans, it can be used to promote relaxation in horses. This can be helpful for digestion and gastric discomfort. It is commonly used to treat mild colic symptoms in horses.
Meadowsweet has effects similar to aspirin. It possesses anti-inflammatory properties and can help with equine arthritis as well as gut problems. Because of this, it may be an ideal option for treating colic in horses. You can administer it as a dry herb mixed in with the horse's feed. Liquid options may also be available.
Peppermint is known to aid in the digestive process. As a result, it can help relieve pain caused by colic. Mix some peppermint leaves into the feed to help your horse's digestive system. Also, look for peppermint essential oil as an external topical. Apply about 20 drops of the essential oil to the horse's abdomen to provide soothing relief.
CBD oil for horses is a product of the hemp plant. It is well-known for having therapeutic properties.
CBD is a very unique compound. It is non-toxic, has virtually no side effects, and is all-natural. People often confuse CBD and THC because they come from the same family of plants. In reality, however, CBD and THC are completely different chemical compounds. Unlike CBD, THC has strong psychoactive properties that alter your state of mind when ingested. This is one of the main reasons why some people favor CBD over THC.
Benefits of CBD Oil
There is no doubt that a horse owner wants the best treatment for horses. Optimal care is crucial for optimal functioning. The best treatment is one that is effective and does not have serious side effects, even over the long term. CBD oil for horses is the ideal choice. All mammals have an endocannabinoid system (ECS). This system helps to regulate inflammation, digestion, mood, anxiety, stress, and much more. CBD interacts with the ECS to promote overall wellness and homeostasis. If the ECS is functioning at maximum capacity, horse owners can expect to see a healthier, happier pet. CBD has a calming effect that may make it more bearable for the horse to deal with colic.
Side Effects of CBD Oil
Part of the reason why CBD oil receives high praise is that it has little to no side effects. It is 100% safe and non-toxic. It is also non-addictive, making it great for long-term use. Potential side effects of CBD oil include minor effects such:
- Dry mouth - CBD affects saliva production and can promote thirst as a result.
- Lowered blood pressure - CBD’s relaxing properties can cause a slight drop in blood pressure.
- Drowsiness - When used in high doses, CBD can cause drowsiness and lightheadedness.
How Much CBD Should I Give My Horse?
While there are currently no standard dosing guidelines for CBD, there are recommended dosages that you can use to start off treatment for your horse:
- The recommended amount for a regular strength dosage is 0.25 milligrams of CBD oil per every 1 pound of body weight.
- The recommended amount for a stronger dosage is 0.50 milligrams of CBD oil per every 1 pound of body weight.
Keep in mind that these are only recommendations and can be altered to meet the needs of your horse. Some animals respond better to low doses while others may benefit from higher doses. CBD oil is most effective when used twice daily. Learn more here!
Can You Prevent Horse Colic?
Colic is a serious affliction for horses that can have fatal consequences if left untreated. As such, horse owners can take a sigh of relief in knowing there are ways they can potentially reduce the risk of their horses developing colic. There is no one way to ensure that your horses are not at risk for it, but with consistent care practices, checking your horse's vital signs, and maintenance using natural processes, you can minimize the risk of your horse developing colic.
Preventing Horse Colic - Dietary Feeding
One of the first easiest home remedies for horse colic is a good diet! Horses prone to colic can benefit from a dietary overhaul. In the wild, horses graze feed on low-energy plants such as grass for as long as 12 hours at a time. Modern feeding methods do not account for this and, as a result, often do not provide everything a horse needs to avoid digestive problems. Modern feeding regimens also lack the proper spacing between meals, nutritional density, and portions to prevent your horse's digestive tract problems.
One simple method for creating a proper feeding regimen for your horse is to feed them only what they need. Overfeeding can reduce gut motility and lead to a case of equine colic if left unchecked. What should I feed them, you might ask? Simple grass is the answer and will work as a balanced food for your horse. Feeding your horse grass helps to stimulate gut motility by providing it with consistent gut activity. Consistent gut activity is a major way to reduce colic risk because a horse's digestive system has evolved to constantly digest and process food.
Do All Horses Survive Colic?
Unfortunately, not all horses survive colic. If left unchecked and untreated, the severity of colic can rapidly ramp up, causing major health concerns that can become fatal. This is why it is important to treat colic as soon as your horse starts showing signs.
10% of colic cases require surgical correction. This surgery comes with its own mortality risk and a period of recovery that can prove difficult for horses and owners to manage. Generally, colic is not always a life or death situation, but as the highest cause of mortality for horses, it is always worth preparing for.
A horse's digestive system is unique and complex, requiring specialized treatment with a consistent and natural diet. Because colic is so common, horse owners must know some home remedies for horse colic. Prevention is an important aspect of horse care that owners must prioritize due to the potentially fatal nature of the disease.
With the help of this useful guide to home remedies for horse colic, you have the fundamental know-how to identify and potentially treat symptoms of colic. Talk to a veterinarian immediately anytime you suspect colic could be causing a horse's pain. In the meantime, try giving some extra alleviation to your horse's discomfort with specialized CBD horse products from us at HolistaPet! We would be proud to help you and your horse find your wellness, naturally.