Logo by Cynthia Johnson
Emergencies and First Aid"Intermediate"
How to Give a Horse an Enema for Colic
(Impaction colic remedy)
Submitted by Belinda Howard, 12/29/2008
Many times we find ourselves walking a colicy horse on weekends or Holidays when the Vets are closed or out of town. That's usually when a crisis starts. Over the years I have found this treatment to be very effective for impaction colic & researched that largest percentage of colic's are "Impaction Colic's."
This treatment usually cures the colic or helps tremendously until a Vet can be found. It's also very important you administer the enema at the first signs of colic. As waiting too long will cause the impaction to become harder to treat & cure.
First tie the horse securely or have someone hold it. You may wrap the tail also. And be sure the horse has no fever & truly has colic.
Then, I start with a regular red enema bag(human type) & put about a gallon of warm water in mixed with half pint of mineral oil in the bag. Lube the end with Mineral Oil or Vaseline & insert the small hose with the small enema attachment on the bag gently put the hose in about 6 inches. About 2 inches in there will be a rectum muscle & you have to gently but firmly push the hose in till past it, usually about half inch. When the hose is in good, hold the bag higher than their rump & wait a few minutes for all the water to go in. Make sure the hose is not twisted anywhere. Also stand to the side of the horse's rump & not directly behind it, as when the water comes back out it will have some force to it like they are peeing like a mare.
If they're really clogged & won't hold much water at first, you just have to keep holding the bag up & letting the water run in a little at a time until it starts to get unclogged...sometimes it takes several gallons for them to get unclogged also. As you will see muddy colored water coming out when it starts working. Then finally large portions of manure will start to come back out with the water.
You will know for sure the enema has worked when the horse wants to start grazing or eat hay again. I usually do not feed any grain for a full day, only hay that I have watered down good. And for a few days afterwards I mix a half pint of mineral oil in their grain & water their hay good.
You may use Fleet Enemas instead of a human enema bag, more costly & time consuming though.
You may walk the horse or keep him tied during the time the enema water is still inside & the hose is out, then keep him fairly still as you are administering the enema water again if needed. Sometimes they will swing their rump from side to side while the water is going in, so you need to hold the hose lightly & follow their movements until they settle down again. Try not to jerk the hose out but pull out straight & slowly.
If the colic is from an intestinal twist, only a small amount of water will go in & will come out clear, no mater how long you hold the bag up.
Never use a water hose for an enema treatment, as they are very tender & you could do more damage than good.
Photos are from "Horse Owner's Veterinary Manual" by James M. Giffin MD & Tom Gore, DVM
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