The Horse

OCT 2018

The Horse:Your Guide To Equine Health Care provides monthly equine health care information to horse owners, breeders, veterinarians, barn/farm managers, trainer/riding instructors, and others involved in the hands-on care of the horse.

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TheHorse.com | The Horse October 2018 17 Making Hard Decisions SARAH EVERS CONRAD Y our heart pounds as you try to soothe your sweaty 21-year-old gelding, who is struggling as pain clutches his abdomen. You remind yourself to stay alert when he almost catches you with a hoof as he paws. He swings his head around to look at his flank and swishes his tail wildly. The more agitated he gets, the more you worry. Then the veterinarian's voice in- terrupts your thoughts, confirming one of your worst fears. Knowing what to do if your horse needs colic surgery, and how to afford it, can save his life Colic Surgery: "It's definitely a severe colic, and he needs to go to the nearest equine veterinary hospital for an evaluation," she says. "He may need surgery, but they can tell you more once he gets there. We need to get him there immediately." Your thoughts begin to whirl. Colic surgery? Will he survive that? Can't we just manage him at the farm? How will he handle the two-hour drive? Do I need to put air in the trailer tires? How much will surgery cost? How will I afford it? How long will he have to stay there? For horse owners in this situation, the ques- tions come fast and furious; a severe colic diagnosis with referral for possible surgery can be upsetting and scary. But with a calm, clear head and quick decision-making on the part of the owner and veterinarian, many horses have a good shot at surviving such an emergency. In some instances, however, you might have to make difficult decisions for the sake of the horse. While it can be unsettling to think about all the possible scenarios, planning before colic happens could save your horse's life. When Colic Strikes The chances of a good prognosis for a colic case increase the sooner you recognize the clini- cal signs. Ideally, you should already have a plan in place for what you'll do if a horse colics, says Jarred Williams, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVS-LA, ACVECC, clinical assistant professor of large animal emergency medicine at the University of Georgia's College of Veterinary Medicine, in Athens. Typical colic signs include pawing, looking at or biting the flank, excessive sweating, rolling or wanting to lie down, playing in the water bucket but not drinking, lack of fecal output,

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