A special presentation was held at the University of Guelph on March 9th, 2013, delivering current research and findings to help veterinarians battle a horse owners’ worst nightmare – colic. Equine Guelph has declared 2013, “the Year of Colic Prevention.” This seminar began by highlighting results from the colic industry survey by project manager, Diane Gibbard. This survey was completed by over 1,200 respondents across Canada. Ontario Veterinary College researcher, Dr. Belinda Black delivered a talk on the latest equipment and surgical techniques being used in the veterinary profession today. The informative morning came to a close with Dr. Steve Elliott, Global Product Director at Alltech, outlining emerging research using nutritional biotechnologies to improve gut health.
The Equine Guelph Colic Survey revealed that 85% of the respondents had personal experience with colic. The number one request from those polled was for more education on the signs and symptoms of colic. Findings indicate the majority of survey participants feed concentrates twice daily when more frequent smaller feedings could reduce colic risk. Those surveyed showed an awareness of making changes in feed slowly for concentrates but less awareness of the importance of making changes in forage over a recommended period of at least two weeks. Survey participants were knowledgeable on the protocols for removing hay and feed at the first signs of colic but there was a large split when it came to determining timing for veterinary involvement. The survey identified clear gaps in knowledge and priority areas in education and communications and Equine Guelph will be responding to this need in current and future programming.
Dr. Belinda Black quoted a statistic stating 42% of colic cases had an environmental change one week prior to the incident (Malamed et al 2012). Diagnostic techniques for measuring lactate in venous blood were discussed as well as the use of ultrasound to check for free fluid in typical trouble spots within the gut. Regarding prevention; the importance of regular dental exams was highlighted, in addition to new research identifying crib-biters and windsuckers at a higher risk for colic.
Finally, Dr. Steve Elliot, Global Product Director at Alltech, reported on technology of nutritional management to stabilize healthy gut functioning. Disruptions in gut function can be one of the major contributors to the incidence of colic therefore feeding management is a prime consideration to maintain healthy digestive function. Elliot explained that bacteria in the horses’ hindgut don’t adapt to feed changes rapidly. He further discussed the problems bacteria can cause if they bind to the gastro intestinal tract to reproduce.
Topics discussed by all three speakers included the importance of a good parasite prevention program, routine dental care and making changes to feed slowly to reduce the risk of colic.
Equine Guelph thanks Alltech for funding provided to offer this Colic Presentation to local veterinarians. Stay tuned for the launch of Equine Guelph’s ‘Colic Risk Rater’ – a free online healthcare tool designed to help horse owners reduce their risk of colic.
Sign up for Equine Guelph's next Colic Prevention eWorkshop - April 15 -28