This poor little girl is a one year old miniature horse suffering from colic due to a large accumulation of sand in her large colon (see the X-ray showing the sand in the lower abdomen). This occurs as a result of steady ingestion of sand from the paddocks/soil over weeks or months, and can easily go unnoticed until there is enough sand in the bowel to cause significant irritation and obstruction. It also predisposes to enterolith formation (development of “stones” in the intestine) which can lead to further colic and often the need for emergency surgery to remove them.
Fortunately this patient responded very well to pain relief and administration of paraffin oil and psyllium husk – seen here being administered by Drs Hayley Lang, Jonathan Lee and Tom Bayes, and was able to go home a couple of days later and is still doing well.
If you have your horses on sandy pasture, regular preventative measures should be taken to minimise the risk of sand colic. These include feeding any hay or other feed from raised mangers or hay nets (or using mats which are regularly swept to remove the sandy soil) and feeding psyllium (e.g. Sandlube) twice weekly at least. In the greater Sydney region we see most cases of sand colic from the Terrey Hills/Duffy’s Forest and Kurnell regions, but all soil in our part of the world can have relatively high sand content, so it can occur almost anywhere. Sometimes routine radiography of the abdomen is necessary to know how much sand is being eaten and therefore how big a risk sand colic is.
Please contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org (02 0399 7722) or see your usual vet if you would like more information.