Colitis-X in Horses

3 min read



Because of the rapid decline in health that results from this intestinal disease process, colitis-X is known for its exceptionally high rate of mortality; 90-100 percent of horses affected by this condition will die. It is important to keep in mind that most treatments for colitis-X are unsuccessful. In most instances, the disease has progressed too far for treatment.


For those cases in which treatment can be started immediately and at a properly prepared clinical facility, therapy consists of large amounts of fluids and electrolyte replacement given to counteract the fatal effects of the rapid dehydration. This initial treatment typically needs to be followed immediately by blood plasma infusions to replace the loss of body fluids, along with intestinal support – such as the administration probiotics to encourage the growth of "good" bacteria.


Corticosteroids (anti-inflammatory steroids) in high doses may also be used to combat the shock the horse goes into following the initial increase in body temperature and subsequent severe drop in body temperature. To resist the effects of toxins being released into the body, an anti-inflammatory non-steroidal drug, flunixin meglamine, may be used to prevent toxemia, as well as for palliative treatment -- to reduce inflammation in the intestinal tract, relieving the horse of some of the immediate discomfort.




As the cause of this condition is still unknown, there is currently no vaccine available to prevent colitis-X nor are there effective ways to prevent it. The best practical prevention includes ensuring your horse is in excellent health when being transported or undergoing other forms of stress such as competition. Proper hygiene is also important. It is also important to be especially vigilant of any sudden change in health when your horse is on a course of antibiotics, and after a major surgery.