Gastro-intestinal conditions can affect the oesophagus and stomach, intestines, or major organs such as the liver and kidneys. Signs of disease may include colic, weight loss and poor performance. As the abdomen of the horse is very large, diagnosis of some conditions can be challenging.
Acute gastro-intestinal conditions such as severe colic may be immediately transported to a referral practice for surgery, if appropriate. However, more chronic, on-going conditions can often be worked up by our equine team.
In these cases, a full and accurate history will be taken at the time of the initial examination, including details of previous worming and any pre-existing conditions or current treatments. A rectal examination may be performed, and blood and faecal samples may be taken to give more information on the body system involved, and aid diagnosis.
Some cases may need to be admitted to the practice for further investigations – these might include gastroscopy, ultrasonography, or biopsies of liver or rectum, depending on clinical signs and previous laboratory results. Rarely, more invasive surgery may be indicated.
Treatment of gastro-intestinal disorders depends entirely on the cause, and can involve anything from intensive worming programmes to surgical treatments.