How do I prevent sand impaction from causing colics?

Horses July 19, 2006 Print Friendly and PDF
The prevention of sand impaction starts with management. Horses that are kept on sandy soil should not be fed on the ground. Sluggish behavior, weight loss, diarrhea or a stretched out position resembling the urination posture are typical symptoms to watch for. A test commonly used is to take six fecal balls and mix them in a coffee can with water. After 30 minutes pour off the water and if there is more than a tablespoon of sand present, there is a high probability that there is an accumulation in the horse's intestine that could lead to sand colic. To help remove sand, use a psyllium hydrophilic mucilloid. These products are now available specifically for horses. Metamucil is the same product used by humans. Wheat bran is not effective in removing sand. Mineral oil is sometimes used but it often floats over the top of sand or makes the sand move all at once which could lead to a fatal impaction or blockage of the intestine. To prevent the accumulation of sand in the gut, manufacturers recommend adding 3 to 4 ounces of psyllium to the feed twice a day for one week per month.

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.