Short Knowledge About Horse Inflammation Of The Small Intestine: Equine Enteritis And Colitis


Equine enteritis (duodenitis-proximal jejunitis), an inflammation of the small intestine, usually affects the part of the small intestine closest to the horse’s stomach. The inflammation reduces the intestine’s motility, reducing its ability to absorb fluids. Large amounts of fluid accumulate in the intestine and the horse can become dehydrated. Symptoms of enteritis include abdominal pain and diarrhea as well as kicking and rolling common to colic. Enteritis should be treated by a veterinarian.

Equine Enteritis Causes

What causes equine enteritis?

  • • Intestinal horse parasites such as roundworms and small strongyles can inflame the lining of the intestines.
  • • Sand and gravel can irritate the lining of the intestines and cause inflammation, as can the ingestion of poisonous plants or chemicals. 
  • • A bacteria, Clostridium perfringens, may cause an intestinal inflammatory reaction. Enteritis is more common in the southeastern US, possibly due to naturally occurring soil bacterium. 

Equine Enteritis Treatment

How is equine enteritis treated?

Your veterinarian will perform a thorough examination to rule out infections and other causes. It is often difficult to differentiate between enteritis and a twisted intestine, a condition requiring immediate surgery. Therefore, your veterinarian may recommend exploratory surgery.

Initial treatment includes gastric and small intestine decompression (usually done with a nasogastric tube), fluid therapy and anti-inflammatory and pain relieving drugs. 

Your veterinarian may recommend a bland diet for several weeks. 

Use good feeding practices. Pasture is best but when turnout is not possible, offer small, regular meals of high-quality feed and unlimited fresh water.

Manage manure. Pick out stalls daily and keep pastures as manure free as possible.

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