Small Intestine

The small intestine, named for its small diameter, spans roughly 50-70 feet in length. As food material exits the stomach, it enters the small intestine and mixes with pancreatic secretions and bile. These secretions break down food to allow absorption of proteins, sugars, and fats. Horses with small intestinal disease show signs of colic: kicking at their abdomen, rolling, and a poor appetite. Common causes of small intestinal disease include: 1) obstructions from foreign bodies, poorly digested food (i.e.: poor dental health), strangulations (i.e.: bowel becomes constricted around a fatty tumor in the abdomen), and intussusceptions (telescoping of the intestine) and 2) infectious causes: bacterial, viral, and parasitic. Colic requires immediate veterinary attention.