Spasmodic, or Cramp, Colic


This is the name given to that form of colic produced by contraction, or spasm, of a portion of the small intestines: It is produced by indigestible food; large drinks of cold water when the animal is warm; driving a heated horse through deep streams; cold rains; drafts of cold air, etc, Unequal distribution of or interference with the nervous supply here produces cramp of the bowels, the same as external cramps are produced. Spasmodic colic is much more frequently met with in high­bred, nervous horses than in coarse, lymphatic ones.

Symptoms. - These should be carefully studied in order to diagnose this from other forms of colic requiring quite different treatment. Spasmodic colic always begins suddenly. If feeding, the horse is seen to stop abruptly, stamp impatiently, and probably look back. He soon evinces more acute pain, and this is shown by pawing, suddenly lying down, rolling, and getting up. During the period of pain the intestinal sounds, as heard by applying the ear over the flank, are louder than in health. There is then an interval of ease; he will resume feeding and appear to be entirely well.

In a little while, however, the pains return and are increased in severity, only to again pass off for a time. As the attack progresses these intervals of ease become shorter and shorter, and pain may be continuous. Animals suffering from this form of colic evince the most intense pain; they throw themselves down, roll over and over, jump up, whirl about, drop down again, paw, or strike rather, with the front feet, steam and sweat, and make frequent attempts to pass their urine. Only a small amount of water is passed at a time, and this is due to the bladder being so frequently emptied. These attempts to urinate are often regarded by horsemen as symptoms of trouble of the kidneys or bladder.

In reality they are only one of the many ways in which the horse expresses the presence of pain. As a matter of fact, diseases of the bladder or kidneys of the horse are exceedingly rare. To recapitulate the symptoms of spasmodic colic: Keep in mind the history of the case, the type of horse, the suddenness of the attack, the increased intestinal sounds, the intervals of ease, the violent pain, the normal temperature and pulse during the intervals of ease, the frequent attempts to urinate, etc., and there is but little danger of confounding this with other forms of colic.