Constipation and Colic in Horses



The primary treatment for impactions in horses is to administer a laxative. This is usually given by your veterinarian through a nasogastric tube. Often, a mixture of mineral oil and water is given through this tube, directly to the stomach. Sometimes, Epsom salts are given instead of mineral oil.  Pain medication such as flunixin meglumine (banamine) may also be given to help with the abdominal pain.  If the horse is clinically dehydrated, IV fluids may be given. It is important to not let the horse eat anything until it begins to produce manure again.


Adult horses are too big for an enema to treat the impaction. The large colon of the horse holds upwards of twenty gallons, making this too large for an enema. For this reason, very severe impactions, or those that have been going on for days, can become difficult to treat medically and surgery may be the only option to remove the obstruction.


Living and Management


A high fiber diet is a great way to keep your horse happy, healthy and regular, but you must always be sure that your horse is ingesting plenty of water as well. Tepid or lukewarm water is more palatable for most horses to drink. Exercise is essential too, as regular physical movement encourages movement of the intestinal tract as well.


Even though the weather is not always suitable for outdoor activities, it is still important to make sure that your horse is able to move around comfortably and is not left standing in one place without enough room to turn around comfortably.


Ensuring that fiber in the form of hay or grass pasture is part of your horse’s everyday diet is the best way to ensure that it is able to pass bowel movements regularly.