A Guide to Sand Colic

Equine Sand Colic with Dr Anika Kalka

Beach season may be over, but sand season is just starting for your horse

Whilst the colder turn of weather sees most of us enjoying a hot chocolate or 20, your horse is enjoying the fresh green grass that winter brings. But with each mouthful of those luscious new shoots can come a nasty additive… sand. WA may as well be the sand colic capital of the world, but what do you actually know about this common condition?

What is sand colic?

Sand colic occurs when your horse eats sand and not all of it passes through the gut. This begins to build up causing irritation to gut lining (think sand paper in your intestines), pain and the risk of blockage. It happens when horses are kept in sandy conditions and pick up sand with their feed or especially when the first green shoots begin to appear and sand clings to the roots. And lets face it, some horses are just a bit special and will pick up sand for for reasons only they know.

The highest risk periods are in the middle of summer when pastures are dry and the beginning of winter when the new shoots are beginning to appear.

What are the signs?

The signs of colic are not specific for sand. Include:

  • flank watching/biting
  • lying down
  • rolling
  • pawing the ground
  • grinding teeth

Prevention

Like most diseases, prevention is better than cure, especially because sand colic can range from being very mild and easily treatable to extremely serious and requiring surgery. There are some simple things you can do to reduce the risk of your horse getting sand colic.

  • Feed psyllium husk
    • 50-100g/100kg in feed for 7-10 days and repeat every 1-3 months.
    • ONLY do this when your horse is not colicking
  • Don’t feed straight off the ground
    • Use a bucket, hay net or lay out some old carpet
  • Routine sand drench by your vet at least every 6 months
    • Contains paraffin oil and linseed oil
    • Mid Summer and early Winter
  • Avoid grazing on short sandy pasture
  • Feed long stem, good quality hay
If you are worried about your horse picking up sand and or would like to book in a sand drench, please call the clinic on 99643671

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