This is a very serious disease, and often kills in a few hours. The ordinary causes are exposure to cold, over-fatigue, washing with very cold water when the horse is heated, and not properly clothed afterwards; indigestion, strangulation of intestines, and colic, will also produce it.
The first symptoms are manifestation of abdominal pain, though these are generally preceded by shivering, quick breathing, dulness, and repeated evacuations of small quantities of faeces. The appetite is lost, and the pulse quick and hard; as the pain increases, the animal becomes restless, paws, rolls about in a cautious manner, the body becomes covered with perspiration, the nostrils are widely distended; he wanders excitedly or listlessly around the box; the eyes grow wild and haggard; there is sometimes a groan or a scream of pain; the gait is staggering, and at last the animal falls and dies, after a few convulsive struggles.
Opiates must be administered in large doses, in order to arrest the pain, and check as much as possible the movements of the intestines. One or two ounces of tincture of opium, or two or three drachms of opium powder in water, may be given, followed by smaller doses at intervals; or one ounce of extract of belladonna in water may be administered. Hot fomentations should be applied to the abdomen for an hour at a time, and enemas of warm water given gently, but not too frequently; if these increase the pain, they must be stopped.