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Miniature horses have tendency to colic more frequently than other larger breeds of horses for a number of reasons. Minis are smaller than other breeds therefore they have smaller mouths smaller teeth and a smaller digestive system. Because of this it’s not as easy for them to totally chew their food. Often times the minis, because they have been developed for size, don’t have the best teeth. Sometimes their teeth are not accurately aligned and therefore it’s difficult for them to chew their food properly. The small internal organs are susceptible to intestinal impaction as well.

The minis also love to eat and they are really prone to snagging food wherever they can. People create another problem as they are cute and everyone wants to feed them. Often people see them as a pet more like a dog than like a horse and because of this they often feed them food that is not appropriate for a horse.

Colic in minis is just like colic in big horse but can be even more deadly. The signs are the same; you can notice the same symptoms. You may see them either biting their stomach, rolling, looking at their stomach. Sometimes they are profusely sweating, and seem agitated. So the signs are the same but the chances of it happening more frequently are more likely.

I’ve included a couple of articles here on colic in minis to help you figure out what might be going on with your miniature horse. I also have a little video that I did on Butterscotch our mini who had a colic episode and why she colicked and how she colicked, and what that was all about. That story will be on our Thursday blog post with the video.

This week we are focusing on awareness and one thing about your Mini is to keep an eye on their weight. Notice if they’re starting to get heavier and heavier. Horses are more likely to colic or founder when they are overweight; this is especially true for mini horses. Read the articles below to find out more about some specific ailments in Minis with weight problems.

There are other health issues that can come along when they get overweight, so keep an eye on your miniature horse, make sure that you are not feeding them inappropriate food, that you don’t leave them out on the grass too long and that you really watch their diet. They don’t need much food so be really careful what you feed them. Check out the articles in the links below. Here are a couple of articles about colic in minis I hope you find informative.

Read More of This Article from CruzMiniHorse
Colic is one of the main causes of death in horses, and miniature horses are especially vulnerable due to the small size of their intestines, allowing a blockage to form. This is a painful condition caused by a disruption of the horse’s digestive system. It can occur from such causes as, internal parasites, large- or small-colon impaction, or spoiled food.

The term “colic” refers to abdominal pain in the horse.  It does not indicate the cause of the pain. Colic can be due to gastrointestinal, urinary or reproductive problems.

GI (gastrointestinal) issues are the most common cause of colic.  Furthermore, the 2 common causes of GI pain in the horse is either gas or impaction.

The best preventative is to keep the miniature horse on a laxative diet, and grass is the most desirable food for this reason. Avoid coarse hay or forage.

Intestinal parasites is one of the most common causes of colic in horses and can be prevented by regular worming. Keeping manure cleaned out of the pens and mowing pastures will reduce worm populations.

The miniature horse can be dewormed every 8 weeks, or he can be given a daily dose of dewormer in his food. The safest products are pyrantel, bendamidazole, and ivermectin. Ivermectin should be administered after the first frost in the fall and again in the spring to combat bots.

One of the causes can be enteroliths, which are stones that form around a foreign object swallowed by the horse. Wood, metal, plastic or glass can cause this if ingested by the miniature horse. Foals that chew their mother’s mane or tails also can develop this condition.

Surgery is the only treatment if a miniature horse is diagnosed with colic caused by enteroliths. Prevention of enteroliths is through avoidance of bran and alfalfa hay which are high in minerals that cause these stones to form.

Gas is also a common cause of colic in horses. Most times, the cause of gas is not found but known reasons for gas in horses are: rapid change in diet- including sudden change to an either very rich or poor quality of hay, and parasitic infection. With colic caused by gas, horses have brief, self limited symptoms such as: the horse looking at it’s side, pawing, pacing, shaking, stretching repeatedly, playing with their water but not seeming to drink much, and even appearing mildly bloated.

If gas is the cause, then these symptoms should improved by encouraging hydration and walking the horse for up to an hour. However, if after an hour this does not seem to relieve the symptoms or if the horse begins to lie down, roll, appear depressed or stop eating, seek veterinary care immediately as this could signal a potentially life threatening cause, such as impaction.

Impaction is a blockage in the intestine. Causes of this can include coarse dry feed material that the horse has consumed without adequate water intake; poor chewing while eating due to dental problems; and even decreased GI motility from decreased physical activity or advanced age. Worm or sand impaction can even be a cause of blockage. So if your horse’s colic symptoms do not resolve in about an hour, or any warning symptoms occur, it is better to seek immediate veterinary attention.

Read More of This Article by The Horse Report
Reprinted from The Horse Report with permission from the Center for Equine Health, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis (UC Davis).
Colic–Minis have robust appetites, but their predisposition for dental problems can impair their chewing capacity.

The reduced ability to grind feed combined with the robust food-seeking nature of the Mini creates a unique subset of common colic. Minis are prone to three distinct types of colic: fecaliths, enteroliths, and sand colic. The root “lith” means “stone”.

Fecaliths are accumulations of long-stem feed, twine or hair, and manure that create a hard, rock-like obstruction in the small colon. These obstructions cause gas to build up and cause moderate pain. Similarly, trichophytobezoars, which is an accumulation of feed and hair, are sometimes seen in Minis that spend a lot of time standing around and grooming each other. It is much less commonly seen in horses that are pastured.

Enteroliths are mineral stones that form in the colon of horses fed a diet involving alfalfa hay. Alfalfa hay is rich in magnesium, protein, and phosphorus, and these components combine as magnesium, ammonium and phosphate around a central nidus such as a piece of wire or foreign material to form a stone. Arabian horses are the most common enterolith formers, and Minis are also at increased risk. Although horses can pass small enteroliths, surgery is often required to remove larger stones that cause obstruction. Abdominal radiographs have a 90% detection rate for enteroliths in a fasted horse. The small abdominal diameter of the Mini makes radiographic diagnosis a valuable tool and radiographs are recommended for any Mini experiencing multiple colic episodes or unrelenting abdominal pain.

Sand colic is also common in Minis because they tend to be scavengers and vacuum their surroundings. Sand settles in the colon, weighs the organ down, and abrades the lining of the colon to produce inflammation and diarrhea. Sand is readily visible on radiographs (X rays) and a fecal float for sand should be a regular part of the colic exam for a Miniature Horse. A fecal float consists of placing a large handful of feces into a plastic bag filled with water. The bag is hung, and the bottom is inspected for sand that will have settled after a few minutes. Sand can be treated with oral laxatives and psyllium, but occasionally it will cause the colon to displace or function poorly. Sand colics can require surgery when medical treatment does not resolve the problem. Feeding Minis on rubber mats, adding psyllium to the monthly routine, and avoiding sandy environments can help prevent this problem.

Gary Magdesian, DVM, of the UC Davis William F. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, and Mark Rick, DVM, of Alamo Pintado Equine Medical Center in Los Olivos, Calif., contributed to this article.