Why Hospitalisation can sometimes be the Best Option for Colic Cases


Written by David Bartholomeusz, B. Sc, B.V.M.S, M.A.C.V.S .

If you have VEVs visit you for a colic case you will often find that it may be suggested (especially if the vet is revisiting your horse, & depending on its condition), that your horse has a better chance of survival being treated medically in hospital. As soon as the vet mentions ‘hospital’ the first thing people think of is a $5,000-10,000 vet bill for surgery. This is not necessarily the case.

The benefits of treating colic cases in a hospital:

  1. The horse is referred to hospital for medical treatment (the owner may specify that surgery is not an option for them).
  2. The horse is being continually monitored and assessed by veterinary staff.
  3. The horse is treated with intensive fluid therapy and on the spot medications as condition changes warrant.
  4. If the horse pulls through it is generally only in hospital for a couple of days.

Some issues when treating ongoing colic cases at home:

  1. If we are treating a recurring colic, once the vet leaves the owner is monitoring the horse and reporting changes in the horses’ condition to the vet.
  2. If the vet needs to return there is a delay in ongoing treatment until the vet can get back to your property, (in hospital the treatment change can occur immediately).

Money-wise, for ongoing and serious colic cases, you will find that you may end up with a vet bill from your local vet which may be the same as the hospital bill, especially if there are a number of return visits and especially if these occur after regular hours.

Now it probably sounds like we are trying to do ourselves and other local practices out of extra work, but at the end of the day the aim should always be to try and achieve the best outcome for the horse.

It is you the owner, who has to make this decision (taking into account your veterinarians advice) on the best way to treat your horse, keeping in mind financial restraints, transport options and your own personal preference for your horse.

Please visit this link to view our clinic’s Hendra policy: Our Hendra Policy