► Definition: abdominal pain resulting from an accumulation of sand in the large intestine ► Causes: long-term ingestion of gritty dirt along with a horse’s feed and/or forage ► Signs: range from very mild, stemming from irritation of the gut wall, to severe, if the sand has totally obstructed or
caused a torsion in the intestine. Signs of mild discomfort include pawing the ground, restlessness, and looking or biting at the abdomen on the milder side. Horses in more severe pain may start sweating, rolling, and have an increased respiratory rate and pulse. A few horses will have mild, chronic diarrhea with or without overtly colicky behavior. ► Diagnosis: Radiography
is the most effective way to determine whether a horse has a significant amount of sand in his intestine. A fecal sand test, which looks for gritty particles passed in manure, can detect sand accumulation in about half of all cases. A rectal exam is even less effective, because the heavy sand can pull the intestine down out of the veterinarian’s reach. ► Treatment: Analgesic and
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs will be administered to ease pain as well as inflammation in the gut wall irritated by the grains of sand. Fluids and laxatives, including psyllium and mineral oil, may be administered in an attempt to flush out the sand. Horses who do not respond promptly to medical treatment may require surgery to remove the foreign material.