Preventing Gas Colic


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Rapid weather changes or sudden diet changes can bring on gas colic. Gas colic is a major horse health issue in which gas becomes trapped in your horse’s intestine. It is very painful for your horse, and your horse may stop eating, kick and paw at his stomach, and attempt to roll. Thankfully there are a number of preventative measures you can take to lessen the chance of your horse colicking.

Feed Forage

Your horse’s body is meant to graze continuously throughout the day. Putting your horse into a stall and feeding him two or three large meals goes against what would be his diet in the wild. This can strain his digestive system and in some cases can lead to episodes of gas colic.

Feed your horse a good quality forage, whether it is hay, pasture, or hay cubes. Forage should make up the majority of your horse’s diet, and should only be supplemented by grain. Speak with your veterinarian or an equine nutritionist to determine the optimum diet for your horse.

Maximize His Water Intake

Water is another important aspect to preventing gas colic in your horse. Keeping your horse well-hydrated helps to ensure that his digestive system is functioning optimally. Always provide your horse with continuous access to clean drinking water. Scrub buckets daily, and clean large water troughs every two to three days to keep them clear of algae and dirt.

You can take other actions to get additional water into your horse. Wet down his grain with water so that it is almost a mash consistency. Soak his hay with water to increase his water intake. You can also heavily soak cubed hays or beet pulp before feeding them to your horse.

Provide Plenty of Turnout

The action of simply walking around and grazing helps to regulate your horse’s digestive system and keep it functioning normally. Provide your horse with as much time in the pasture as possible. Twenty-four-hour turnout is the most ideal, but if that is not possible then try to come up with other ways to increase your horse’s time outside. Hand walking or lunging your horse when a pasture is not available is one way to increase his activity level.

Maintain a Regular Schedule

Horses are creatures of habit and sudden changes in routine can cause them unnecessary stress. Once you find a system which regulates your horse’s gas colic, stick with it. Even when the weather is bad, try to get your horse outside for some time in the pasture.

Keep his meals consistent in terms of timing; varying meal times by an hour or two is acceptable, but larger variations than that can upset your horse’s digestive system. Additionally, always make any changes in feed very gradually, giving your horse’s stomach plenty of time to get used to the new food.

Gas colic can usually be prevented. If your horse has repeated bouts of gas colic, speak with your veterinarian to find out about additional preventative measures you can take. TOPHORSE–browse horses for sale or place an ad to sell horses

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