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Understanding the dangers of peritonitis in horses *H&H Plus*

Inflammation of the normally smooth stomach lining, a condition called peritonitis, can be life-threatening – as Karen Coumbe MRCVS explains

LINING the abdominal cavity is the peritoneum, a thin, membranous layer that acts as a natural, biological wrapper to protect the abdominal organs.

The peritoneum also secretes a fluid (about 60ml per hour), which helps to lubricate and clean the abdomen with its anti-bacterial properties. This produces a healthy surface for the gut, so that the various structures glide smoothly and do not become entangled or stick together.

When the normally smooth peritoneal surfaces become inflamed, the area becomes sore and irritated – a condition called peritonitis. Colic and peritonitis are closely linked; one may lead to the other and both need to be taken seriously.

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