Prevalence of and risk factors for colic in horses that display crib-biting behaviour

Article English OPEN
Escalona, Ebony E ; Okell, Claire N ; Archer, Debra C (2014)
  • Publisher: BioMed Central
  • Journal: BMC Veterinary Research, volume 10, issue Suppl 1, pages S3-S3 (issn: 1746-6148, eissn: 1746-6148)
  • Related identifiers: pmc: PMC4123051, doi: 10.1186/1746-6148-10-S1-S3
  • Subject: Research Article | veterinary(all)
    mesheuropmc: digestive system | surgical procedures, operative | digestive system diseases | female genital diseases and pregnancy complications

Background Crib-biting and windsucking (CBWS) behaviour in horses has been associated with increased risk of colic in general, recurrence of colic and specific forms of colic. The aims of the present study were to determine the prevalence of colic within a population of horses that display CBWS behaviour and to identify risk factors for colic. Methods Owners/carers of horses in the general UK equine population that display CBWS behaviour were invited to participate in a questionnaire-based survey about the management and health of these horses. Data were obtained for a number of variables considered to be possible risk factors for colic. The prevalence of colic was calculated and multivariable logistic regression was used to identify associations between horse- and management-level variables for two outcomes of interest: a history of colic ever and a history of colic in the previous 12 months. Results Data were obtained for 367 horses. One or more episodes of colic had been observed in 130 horses (35.4%). A total of 672 colic episodes were reported and 13 colic episodes required surgical intervention in 12 horses. Where the horse/pony had been in that persons care over the previous 12 months (n=331), colic had been observed in 67 horses (20.2%) during that time. A total of 126 colic episodes were reported in the preceding 12 months of which veterinary attendance was required in 69 (54.8%) episodes. Increased duration of ownership, increased duration of stabling in the Autumn months (September-November), crib-biting/windsucking behaviour associated with eating forage and horses that were fed haylage were associated with increased risk of colic (ever). Increasing severity (frequency) of CBWS behaviour and increased duration of stabling in the Autumn were associated with increased risk of colic in the previous 12 months. Conclusions The prevalence of colic in a population of horses that display CBWS appeared to be relatively high. The results of this study can be used to identify horses that display CBWS who are at increased risk of colic and identifies areas for further research to determine if there are ways in which this risk might be reduced.
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