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  • October 27, 2022 3 min read

    Colic is a generic term used to describe abdominal pain. In horses, colic is one of the biggest killers worldwide and can come on suddenly or gradually. Colic can be caused by many things, such as stress or ulcers, but the most common cause is sand accumulation. Thankfully, there are measures we can take that will help to prevent the accumulation of sand in the horse's gut, which are detailed below. 

    1. Avoid Feeding Your Horse on Sand

    Horses are notorious for knocking over feed buckets and eating their feed straight from the sandy ground! If possible, place a rubber mat under your horse's feed bucket or hay net so that any loose feed is not collected on sandy soil. Also, make sure to clean the mat regularly. This will help prevent any unintentional ingestion of sand.

    2. Up the Hay

    Hay is the best source of fibre and will help to push out sand from the horse's gut. In fact, several studies have shown hay to be the most effective way to remove sand from the gut! It will also help to keep your horse feeling fuller for longer, reducing the want to feed off of less desirable food sources (I.e. short grass, manure etc.). As a rule, horses should be fed at least 1.5% of their body weight in forage (hay and grass) daily! If you can't provide this amount of hay, then the fibre of the diet can be increased in other ways, such as beet pulp or lupin and soy hulls.

    3. Feeding Psyllium Husk 

    Psyllium husk is the fibre used to help the horse remove sand from its gastrointestinal tract. If you do opt to treat with psyllium husk, it is essential to remember to feed it for only five days per month; any more than this, and the microbes in the gut will start to digest it, rendering it ineffective. There are many products available on the market that are designed to help with the removal of sand. These include psyllium husk powder, Sandflush (pellets), Sandlube, SandBuster and EAC in-fibre. 

    4. Drenching 

    If you have a horse that colics often, or your horse has a significant sand burden as determined by a vet, you may need to routinely drench your horse to ensure that large sand accumulations do not occur. Vets will generally administer a laxative drench containing Epsom salts and paraffin oil, designed to help move sand (and everything else) through the gastrointestinal tract. If you don’t have an actively colicing horse, then vets may suggest administering a psyllium and Epsom salt drench, which can also help in the removal of sand accumulation. If you opt to drench your horse routinely, it is best performed by a vet. 

    Take home message

    There are many ways in which we, as horse owners, can prevent sand from accumulating in our horses. However, the only accurate way to know if your horse has a sand burden is to contact your vet for an assessment. In this way, you are ensuring that you receive the very best advice and treatment plan suitable for your horse, and this is the very best way in which you can prevent potential sand colic. 

    If you need any advice regarding the psyllium products mentioned above, please visit us in-store or online; we are always here to help!

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