Risk for Horse Condition Higher with Milder Winter

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ALLEGAN, MI (WWMT TV) -- MARCH 27, 2012 -- The mild, relatively snow-free winter in southwestern Michigan could contribute to a condition known as sand colic in horses.

The Kalamazoo Gazette reports (http://bit.ly/As66Fp) the lack of snow cover has resulted in horses ingesting extra sand as they feed. Normally, snow cover up to four months of the year allows horses to rid their bodies of the sand swallowed at other times.

Sand covers the ground in much of Allegan County and other areas bordering Lake Michigan.

The Michigan State University Extension warns of the increased risk. Signs of sand colic include sluggishness, weight loss and diarrhea.

Experts say owners should avoid grazing horses on sparse pasture, keeping a good mat of grass between the horse and the ground. They also should consider routinely using a laxative known as psyllium.