Horse Diseases > Horse Colic > Engorgement Colic

Engorgement Colic

This form of colic consists in an overloading of the stomach with food. The horse may have been overfed or the food may have collected in the stomach through failure of this organ to digest it and pass it backward into the intestines. Even a normal amount of food that the horse is unaccustomed to may cause disease. Hence a sudden change of food may produce engorgement colic.

Continued full rations while the horse is resting for a day or two or working too soon after feeding may serve as a cause. New oats, corn, or hay, damaged food, or food difficult of digestion, such as barley or beans, may incite engorgement colic. This disease may result from having fed the horse twice by error or from its having escaped and taken an unrestricted meal from the grain bin. Ground feeds that pack together making a sort of dough may cause engorgement colic if they are not mixed, with cut hay. Greedy eaters are predisposed to this disease.

Colic Symptoms - The horse shows the general signs of abdominal pain, which may be long continued or of short duration. Retching or vomiting movements are made; these are shown by labored breathing, upturned upper lip, contraction of the flank, active motion at the throat, and drawing in of the nose toward the breast, causing high arching of the neck. The horse may assume a sitting position on his haunches, like a dog. At times the pain is very great and the horse makes the most violent movements, as though mad.

At other times there is profound mental depression, the horse standing in a sleepy, or dazed, way, with the head down, the eyes closed, and leaning his head against the manger or wall. There is, during the struggles, profuse perspiration. Following retching, gas may escape from the mouth, and this may be followed by a sour froth and some stomach contents. The horse can not vomit except when the stomach is violently stretched, and, if the accumulation of food or gas is great enough to stretch the stomach so that vomiting is possible, it may be great enough to rupture this organ. So it happens not infrequently that a horse will die from ruptured stomach after vomiting. But after the stomach ruptures vomiting is impossible.