Friday, 5 August 2016

All About ... Peritonitis

What is it

Peritonitis is when the membrane which lines the abdominal cavity and covers the intestines (the peritoneum) becomes inflamed or is damaged.  An injury to, or rupture of, the stomach or intestines will release the contents (which are toxic) and bacteria into the peritoneal cavity - this can be fatal.


Peritonitis can affect a small area or can be severe, symptoms will vary depending on this.

  • Abdominal pain  
  • Tense abdomen 
  • Reluctance to move 
  • Raised temperature 
  • Raised heart rate 
  • Severe depression 
  • Grunting when breathing or if forced to move 
  • Sweating 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Weight loss 
  • Diarrhoea 
  • Dehydration


  • Most commonly penetration of the abdominal wall by a sharp object 
  • Rupture of stomach 
  • Tumour 
  • Bots can cause perforation of stomach wall



The Vet will observe the horse's symptoms, check heart rate and temperature.  They will also listen to the sounds from the intestines.


Call the vet IMMEDIATELY .  Keep horse warm (ie: normal body temperature) calm and quiet.  Treatment will vary depending on the cause of the Peritonitis.  If worms are the cause then the horse will be wormed, antibiotics will be given for any infection.  Severe and acute Peritonitis will require treatment for fluid loss, shock, sepsis etcetera.  In severe cases it is often the kindest choice to euthanase.


Ensure no sharp objects in stable or field.  Regular worm egg counts and worming. 

Did you see Wednesday's video 'Lunging Basil ... sort of'  on my You Tube channel.   
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Until next time!

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