Colic: What to Do while Waiting for the Veterinarian

July 5, 2018 (published)

What can horse owners do while your horse is colicking and still waiting for the vet to arrive?  This is certainly a stressful time and the main thing to remember is not to panic.  There is really nothing medically you can do that will make a lot of difference in the outcome, but remaining calm may help your horse stay calmer also.  You have probably heard lots of things to do, including walking your horse and putting him in a trailer to encourage a bowel movement.  Dr. Diana Hasell is a board-certified emergency veterinarian and she indicates the best thing to do is attempt to keep your horse up and moving and prevent him from rolling.  If your horse seems more comfortable walking, then it is okay to do so until the veterinarian arrives.  Walking seems to stimulate gastrointestinal motility in some cases, but some horses may be so painful you cannot keep them up regardless of everything you do.  

A common question is should you give Banamine before the veterinarian arrives and the answer is no unless your veterinarian recommends you give the drug.  If the drug is given, it must be given in the vein and missing the vein can cause a severe infection.  Although it is labeled to give in the muscle, this should never be done as a severe muscle infection can develop.  The problem with giving Banamine before your vet arrives is two-fold.  First, it does not allow your vet to examine the horse’s condition before pain medication was given, and second, Banamine could mask a serious problem and delay possible referral for surgery.  It is probably a good idea to keep your horse from eating until your veterinarian arrives.  All cases of colic are potentially deadly so calling your vet immediately is the safest thing to do.        

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