Mineral Oil, Baking Soda, and Beer, Oh My!
Dealing with equine colic is never fun, but if you have horses, chances are, you’ll experience it at some point. Excluding old age, colic is the number one cause of death for horses, but the good news is that the majority of cases are mild and easily resolved.
Since colic is such a commonly experienced problem, over the years, horse owners have come up with a variety of home remedies to treat it, many of which have questionable results and others that are downright dangerous. Let’s discuss a few of the natural remedies for horse colic that have come up over the years.
Mineral Oil for Horses
Veterinarians often treat colic by inserting a nasogastric tube and pumping mineral oil into the horse digestive tract to push out any impacted manure. However, owners should never attempt this on their own as the tube can easily end up in the lungs, leading to fatal pneumonitis. Feeding mineral oil as a preventative isn’t recommended either, as it may decrease the digestion and absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.
Baking Soda for Horse Colic
Baking soda, known for its alkalizing properties, is another ingredient some have tried to give as a horse colic preventative or remedy. However, baking soda isn’t likely to help because it breaks down in the stomach and won’t offer a buffering effect in the digestive system. It may not necessarily be harmful, but baking soda most likely won’t help in the treatment of colic.
Can Horses Drink Beer?
Interestingly enough, beer is another natural remedy for colic, and while it’s not exactly dangerous to give your horse, it should never be relied on as the sole treatment method. In fact the only type of colic beer may, in fact, help with is spasmodic colic (due to beer’s ability to anesthetize and relax the gut muscles somewhat). But since most horse owners won’t know what type of colic their horse is experiencing, they can’t assume beer will take care of the digestive system problem.
How to Treat Colic in Horses
If your horse is experiencing symptoms and displaying signs of colic, your first step should be calling your veterinarian, as well as removing all hay and feed. Hand-walking your horse is usually okay, but never force an unwilling horse to walk and don’t overdo it.
While colic can’t always be prevented, there are several measures you can take to reduce your horse’s chances of experiencing it:
- Feed a forage-based diet (based on hay or grass) and limit the amount of grain you feed.
- Make sure your horse always has fresh, clean water available.
- Allow your horse to get plenty of daily exercise with turnout and/or riding.
- Feed certain supplements such as probiotics to keep the gut functioning smoothly.
Most importantly, if your horse does experience digestive distress, don’t rely on home remedies such as mineral oil, baking soda or beer. Seek medical attention and leave the treatment plan to the professionals instead!