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Post-Operative Surgical Colic Care

Colic can be a very serious issue for both rider and horse. It can sometimes be deadly if not caught in time or cared for properly. However, the post care of a coliced horse is just as important as knowing the warning signs and getting proper care. This blog will cover the post care process of a coliced horse.


Take and record a rectal temperature at least once daily for 14 days. Consult with your veterinarian if the temperature is greater than 101F.

Examine the abdominal incision once daily for 30 days by visual inspection as palpation can be dangerous and not very informative. Check for moisture, a fluid/discharge, or swelling. Some swelling (edema) on the abdomen is normal and will be present until healing is complete. Moisture, discharge, excessive swelling, gaps in the incision, or exposure of raw tissue is abnormal and your referring veterinarian should be consulted.

Closely observe for signs of colic and founder/laminitis. Banamine (flunixin meglumine) may be given by your veterinarian in the vein if needed. It should never be given in the muscle.

If questions, concerns, or complications develop, contact your referring veterinarian or your local Large Animal Hospital.


If grain is fed, reintroduce slowly after 30 days. Grain is not recommended during the early postoperative recovery. Examine the manure daily. Note the quantity and characteristics of the manure. A diet which has a laxative effect is recommended (grass, alfalfa hay).


Work out a de-worming program with your veterinarian. Current guidelines for parasite control are much different than previous recommendations because of parasite resistance to drugs.


First 30 days: Stall rest with hand walking the first 30 days after surgery. Hand walking, 10 minutes per walk, and hand grazing if grass is available, is recommended three to four times daily.

30 to 60 days: Round pen or small paddock self-exercise is permissible from day 30 to day 60 after surgery if the incision is healing well. If a round pen or small paddock is not available, increase the time hand walking.

60 to 90 days: Gradually return to normal activity from day 60 to day 90 after surgery. If postoperative complications occurred, especially in the incision, additional rest is recommended.

Follow-up care

Have your veterinarian check the horse at 30, 60 and 90 days to ensure that the horse is ready for turnout or normal activity. Skin sutures are absorbable and do not need to be removed.

Overall, make sure you know and understand the warning signs of a colicing horse. Not only that, but post care shouldn’t be taken lightly either. Be patient and give your horse time to recover fully. Your equine friend will thank you in the end.

Photo by Bryan Minear on Unsplash
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