Unfortunately, a decrease in the temperature can mean an increased risk for colic, specifically impaction colic. Impaction colic is when feed material forms a blockage in the large colon. There are several locations in the large colon where the diameter narrows, and this is where blockages tend to form.
How does cold weather play a role?
In colder temperatures, horses tend to drink less water. This leads to dehydration, which can lead to impaction colic: Dehydration slows gut movement and causes feed content to be very dry. These two factors combined increase the likelihood of impactions forming. However, just because the weather becomes cold does not mean your horse will form an impaction.
In horses, choke is a condition that occurs when food or some other material becomes stuck in the esophagus. The term choke can be a bit confusing since in people, choking can refer to having something lodged in the trachea (airway).
A few reasons this occurs are because the horse is not chewing properly or the horse is eating too quickly.
What are signs of choke?
Discharge (sometimes containing feed material) coming from both nostrils and/or mouth.
Some horses may make repeated, unsuccessful attempts to swallow.
Not wanting to eat or drink
What should you do if you suspect a horse is choking?
The number one killer of horses is colic. Colic is not a disease, but rather a combination of signs that alert us to abdominal pain in the horse. Colic can range from mild to severe, but it should never be ignored. Many of the conditions that cause colic can become life threatening in a relatively short period of time. Only by quickly and accurately recognizing colic and seeking qualified veterinary help can the chance for recovery be maximized.
While horses seem predisposed to colic due to the anatomy and function of their digestive tracts, management can play a key role in prevention. Although not every case is avoidable, the following guidelines from the American Association of Equine Prac...