Diagnosing sand colic is not that easy. In many cases other causes for colic are ruled out, before sand colic is determined. It is important to always keep sand as a cause for colic in the back of your mind. Turns out, it is one of the main causes of all colic in horses. And when you catch it in time, it is generally very treatable.
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.
In an American study vets could feel abnormalities in the intestinal tract, in about half of the horses with sand colic. Generally these abnormalities were bloating of the small intestine or compacting of the large colon. In only 25% of all horses with sand colic, sand was immediately found in the manure! This is a result of the fact that sand is discarded in ‘waves’. It may not be present one day but obvious the next.
In short: sand colic is not always easy to diagnose, but it is very common!