Sand is one of the main causes of colic in horses. All kinds of abdominal problems in horses that are caused by sand, are called sand colic – or sand enteropathy. A horse suffering from sand colic can show a number of symptoms:
– Mild or severe colic / abdominal pain;
– Recurring signs of colic;
– Weight loss.
In some cases you also see these symptoms:
– Fever (temperature is higher than 101,5 °Fahrenheit / 38,6 °Celcius);
– Low appetite;
– General weakness;
– Intolerance to training / work.
In many cases horses show more than one of the above symptoms if they suffer from sand colic, but not always! A combination of diarrhea and colic is quite a clear indicator of sand colic.
Sand in the horse’s intestine is abrasive and heavy. When a horse ingests more sand than it excretes, a heavy and compact layer of sand builds up on the bottom of the intestine.
The intestine is lined with a soft, mucous layer, that protects the intestinal wall. Sand can damage this layer and in bad cases even tears in the intestinal wall can occur. Sand impaction in the intestine slows down its natural movements, which causes cramps, diarrhea or constipation in the horse. Ultimately, sand can result in an intestinal blockage, which means manure can no longer make its way to the exit.
As you can imagine, all of the above is dangerous – even life-threatening – to your horse. Horses are very sensitive to intestinal problems. If colic is not addressed immediately it can cause ruptures or displacement of the colon. Sometimes parts of the intestine die off. In those cases the horse is generally beyond salvation.