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Why Does My Horse Have Diarrhea

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Why Does My Horse Have Constant Diarrhea

When to Blanket Your Horse

The veterinarians reported that many chronic diarrhea cases might be associated with a dysbiosis, in which the bacterial population in the horses hindgut is unbalanced due to the presence of pathogens or unfavorable intestinal conditions caused by diet changes, environment, or medication administration.

Differentiate Foregut And Hindgut Problems

Mild cases of soft stools arent necessarily cause for an emergency vet call, but anything significantly different in texture and/or that is prolonged requires veterinary intervention.

An equine fecal blood test may be able to help determine if issues are in the hindgut alone or in both the foregut and hindgut, and give a general indication of severity. When used in conjunction with the horses history, other symptoms, and a diagnostic work-up, your veterinarian can better localize and identify the issue and prescribe treatment to get your horse back on track to a healthy digestive system.

Diarrhea is a symptom of gastric ulcers = myth. Diarrhea always signals a problem in the horses small or large intestines. But keep in mind that gastric ulcers could also be present.

Changing A Horses Diet Can Cause Horses To Eat Dirt

Sometimes a horse needs a transition period when changing feed. A horses digestive system is sensitive and needs time to adjust when introducing a new type of feed or hay.

The best method is to mix small amounts of new feed with the feed the horse is currently eating. Try a mix of 80% of the current food, with 20% of the new feed for a few days. Increase the percentage of the new feed over two weeks until you reach 100% of the new feed.

During the transition period, keep an eye on your horses weight and eating pattern. If he begins to drop weight, quits eating or his coat starts to look shabby, consider adjusting his feed or slow down the transition. Sometimes it can take a month or longer for a horse to change his diet successfully.

Make changes to a horses diet slowly.

If you intend to change both hay and feed, pick one to start the process. Changing hay first would be the preferred choice. A change in diet can lead to colic, founder, or other health issues.

Horses will eat dirt because of a transition to a new diet for a couple of reasons: 1) They new feed doesnt have the minerals the horse needs, and 2) the horse is eating fast and then gets bored.

Horses munch on grass hay throughout the day. Chewing on hay keeps a horse occupied, grass pellets are eaten must faster, leading to a bored horse. When bored, a horse may eat dirt. To combat boredom allow more turnout time and exercise.

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Horse Mineral Blocks Provide Essential Elements

Horse mineral blocks are mostly comprised of salt however, they do have trace amounts of the following:

  • Copper: Copper is essential in a horses diet. It helps to utilize iron and develop connective tissue. A deficiency in copper leads to anemia.
  • Zinc: Zinc is vital it affects many body processes, including skin, growth rate, tissue repair, reproduction, and immune systems.
  • Manganese: Manganese is essential in bone formation. It also assists the digestion of carbohydrates and lipids.
  • Cobalt: Cobalt is used to make vitamin B-12. Vitamin B-12 facilitates protein synthesis and carbohydrate and fat metabolism.
  • Iron: Iron is essential in a horses diet. It is needed to transport oxygen throughout a horses blood. It also helps oxygen into a horses muscles. Iron intake should be monitored, too much can be harmful.
  • Iodine: Iodine promotes the proper function of the thyroid gland.
  • Sodium Chloride: Sodium Chloride is another term used to describe salt. Salt is a vital component of a horses diet.

Most commercial feeds provide all the trace minerals a horse needs. A mineral block wont harm a horse but doesnt offer much benefit. If the mineral block is the only source of salt for your horse, then it could be beneficial. Otherwise, it is a wasted expense.

The most likely reason a horse eats dirt is that he became bored, lacked salt, has ulcers, has worms, or there was a change in his diet.

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Inflammation Of The Intestines

A Veterinarian

Often inflammation of the intestines related to the onset of diarrhea is a result of sand ingestion. Horses typically digest minute amounts of dirt from eating off the ground.

The sand irritates the gastrointestinal membranes and causes an adverse reaction, which prevents the absorption of fluids. Sand ingestion isnt the only cause of inflammatory bowel disease horses also have adverse reactions to medications.

Two common drugs that are known to cause mild cases of diarrhea are Bute or Banamine. And antibiotics are essential in treating our equine friends, but they often are a cause of diarrhea.

Antibiotic-associated diarrhea not only causes a horse to feel bad, but it can also be fatal. Its believed equine antibiotics decrease principle bacteria in the animals hindgut, allowing harmful bacterial pathogens to grow.

Intestinal inflammation can also occur when horses develop a reduction of white blood cells, typically associated with other more severe diseases such as cancer. Specific plants are also a cause of inflammatory bowel diseases.

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Treatment And Management Of Diarrhea

Treatment of equine diarrhea typically involves addressing the underlying causes of this condition and supporting fluid balance during recovery.

Closely monitor your horse for any worsening of symptoms. This condition can become dangerous if it is associated with excessive water loss and dehydration.

Fresh, clean lukewarm water should be available to your horse at all times. Provide to promote thirst and rehydration.

Diarrhea can impair nutrient absorption from your horses diet and lead to electrolyte loss. Feeding an electrolyte supplement may be required to restore mineral balance.

Electrolyte supplementation with sodium, chloride, , potassium, and calcium are advised.

Ideally, add these electrolytes directly to water to encourage drinking. Some horses do not like flavoured water so it is a good idea to provide drinking water without added electrolytes as well.

Mad Barns supplement contains a balanced profile of electrolytes to support your horses hydration status.

What Can Cause Diarrhoea

Diarrhoea is the result of one or several of the following:

  • increased motility of the intestine so that contents are rushed through without being further digested and absorbed
  • a decreased ability of the gut to absorb
  • increased secretion or loss of electrolytes and water by the gut itself

Changes in feed

The horses hind gut has its own microflora that breaks down fibre to generate energy sources and vitamins for the horse. The horses health depends on this microflora of bacteria, fungi and protozoa. The microflora adapts to the feed thats presented to them. However, when the horses diet changes, it takes a few weeks for the microflora to adapt. Feed changes should therefore be made very gradually. When sudden changes in the diet occur, this can disrupt the microflora and cause diarrhoea. Changes may be made by us or sometimes nature is the cause of it . Once the microflora has adjusted to the diet change, the diarrhoea should resolve. To prevent digestive issues, we advise you to introduce dietary changes gradually over the course of 2 weeks.


Fig.1: Hooks and an excessive transverse ridge, preventing the horse from being able to grind down food.



Stress , for example due to transport or competition / being on unfamiliar grounds, can cause diarrhoea. This is a reflex of the nervous system.


Colitis and Colitis X


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Products For Diagnosing And Treating Equine Diarrhea

Succeed Fecal Blood Test, succeedfbt.com

Minerals for bacterial communication Restore, restore4life.com

Western herbal formula Digest Support, hiltonherbsusa.com/us-horse-supplements-es/digestion-supplements-for-horses-es/digest-support-for-optimum-digestive-health

Psyllium-based product Assure Plus, arenus.com/assure-plus/

Organic enzyme product, abcplus.biz/Organic_Equine_Digestion_Enzyme_Product

Symptoms Of Allergiesto Insect Bites

Creatine Causes Diarrhea @hodgetwins
  • Itchy skin
  • Hives

Treatmentfor Insect Allergies

If your horse is allergic tono-see-ums bring them inside during dawn and dusk hours if possible, as thoseinsects tend to say outside. Installing netting over windows and door openingsis helpful. If you do not have access to stables, the next best thing is a fullbody fly sheet that covers the mane, and tail and a fly mask that protects theears as well.

Fly repellents dont tent to be very effectivefor sweet itch. Many repellents only kill the fly after they have bitten thehorse. By then its too late because the horse has already been exposed to theallergen.

Fly sheets and mask offer horsespartial protection from daytime insects. Fly repellents used on the legs and bellyare about the best you can do for the lower half of the body. Using a feedthrough fly control will help keep the daytime-active fly population down.

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Acute And Chronic Diarrhea In The Horse

Diarrhea is defined as an increase in the frequency, volume, or fluid content of stools. For reference, horses normally pass manure about 8 to 12 times per day. Acute refers to a condition that comes on suddenly, lasts a short time, or rapidly progresses. Since acute diarrhea in the horse can quickly become very serious, even life-threatening, it is a good idea to contact the veterinarian right away.

Chronic refers to a condition that persists over a long period of time. As far as diarrhea in the horse, some experts consider frequent, loose stool that lasts at least 7 days to be chronic, for others the cutoff is 2 weeks, and some use 1 month as the threshold. Depending on the cause, some horses with chronic diarrhea remain bright and healthy with good appetite and hydration. That is, the prolonged watery, soft stool does not affect the horses weight, energy, or overall health and just causes the hind legs, tail, and environment to be constantly soiled. However for others, chronic diarrhea can result in a sick horse that gets worse the longer the condition continues therefore a vet needs to be involved.

Why Does My Horse Eat Dirt Can It Cause Health Problems

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When my granddaughter and I were watching our horses in a paddock, she noticed one eating dirt. She asked me if eating dirt is typical for horses, I wasnt sure, so I decided to do some research.

The most common reasons horses eat dirt are a salt deficiency, boredom, ulcers, change in diet, or intestinal parasites . Horses may eat a small amount of soil for no particular reason, and this is normal behavior.

Why does my horse eat dirt, is a question that comes up from time to time. Most people have a quick and short answer. But why a horse eats dirt may entail more than a short reply.

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Airbornehorse Allergies Dust Mold And Pollen

There are only a few things youcan do to help control airborne allergies. If possible, try to house your horsein non-dusty conditions. This is not always practical, depending on were youlive. If you live in a very dry dusty area, water your horses hay down to keepthe dust at a minimum, at least for their feed.

Never feed dusty or moldy hay orgrainsever. This can cause emphysema . Heaves can also be caused fromchronic exposure to musty, moldy stable environments. Keep dusty ormoldy bedding to a minimum. Horses with mold allergies will do far better ifpastured out in the open air.

Thereis no cure for heaves or emphysema. The best medicine is prevention.

Symptomsof Airborne Allergies

  • Runny nose
  • Heave line

If you suspect your horse is allergic to an airborneallergen and you can rule out dust and mold, your vet can perform an allergytest on your horse just like doctors do for humans. The hair is shaved and theskin is exposed to various allergens in a grid pattern. The horse is thentreated according to the findings. The horse may be treated withantihistamines. Of course removing exposure to the allergen is best, if theallergen can be identified and it is practical to do so.

But Diarrhea Doesnt Rule Out Foregut Issues

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Keep in mind that while diarrhea clearly points to an intestinal problem, that doesnt necessarily mean a horse isnt also suffering from gastric ulcers or other foregut conditions.

If a horses stomach is ulcerated or otherwise compromised, it doesnt fully break down food, such as concentrated feeds. This can lead to undigested starch reaching the hindgut, which negatively impacts the bacterial population and may subsequently lead to diarrhea, among other potentially serious conditions.

Our own post-mortem research performed over the last decade has found that more than half of the horses suffering gastric ulcers also have colonic ulcers. So while diarrhea is a symptom of an intestinal problem, it stands to reason that foregut issues are also likely. Its also easy to see why people can often associate diarrhea with gastric ulcers, even though there is no causal relationship between the two.

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How Do You Treat Chronic Diarrhea In Horses

In the case of chronic diarrhea, especially those caused by motility abnormalities without other physiological disturbances of colonic function with no decrease in body weight, it is necessary to consider the following: rebalancing of the diet to the real nutritional requirements of the patient, avoiding excess

Why Does My Horse Have Chronic Diarrhea

The veterinarians reported that many chronic diarrhea cases might be associated with a dysbiosis, in which the bacterial population in the horses hindgut is unbalanced due to the presence of pathogens or unfavorable intestinal conditions caused by diet changes, environment, or medication administration.

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Internal Parasites Can Cause A Horse To Eat Dirt

Internal parasites have been linked to horses eating dirt. Internal parasites cause colic and contribute to respiratory, digestive, and performance problems.

The most common parasites that infect horses are bots, strongyles, ascarids , tapeworms, and pinworms. All horse owners should have a deworming protocol for each horse they own.

The link between worms and eating dirt isnt clear.

The following are some essential steps you can take to control worms at your facility:

  • keep pastures in good shape, not overgrazed and mowed
  • during hot, dry weather, disperse manure piles
  • cross-graze pastures with other species.
  • When feeding hay and grain use raised containers,
  • keep stalls, and paddocks clean.
  • Keep your horses water source clean.

The reason horses with worms eat dirt is not completely understood.

How Is Diarrhea Treated

WHY DO FOALS EAT MANURE? // Versatile Horsemanship

Severe cases of diarrhea and colitis are life-threatening and require aggressive intensive care. Fluid and electrolytes are lost in large amounts and a combination of reduced digestion and absorption and increased loss of protein due to intestinal inflammation can result in profound weight loss and debility in a very short period of time. If the lining of the gut is severely damaged or, in certain intestinal bacterial infections the lining of the gut, is so severely damaged that the horse can become toxemic, i.e., toxins produced by bacteria in the gut are absorbed into the blood stream. The toxins can damage large intestinal blood supply irreparably, the gut wall dies and these horses develop shock and die or require euthanasia quite quickly despite treatment.

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Eating Sand Can Cause Sand Colic

Horses eat sand for the same reasons they eat dirt, boredom, change in diet, internal pesticides, mineral deficiency, or ulcers. Eating sand can lead to colic in horses, sometimes called sand colic.

Horses suffering from sand colic lose weight, have diarrhea, and show general distress signs related to colic. You can learn more about colic in our article here.

Diarrhea And Fecal Water Syndrome In Horses

By: Dr. Lydia Gray, SmartPak Medical Director/Staff VeterinarianUpdated on: 10/14/2019

Frequent, loose stool in horses can range from mild, chronic diarrhea that is a nuisance but does not affect the horses overall health to severe, acute diarrhea that is a medical emergency. A related condition is the newly described Fecal Water Syndrome or Free Fecal Water, in which a horse passes normal, solid manure separately from fecal liquid. This article describes the signs and symptoms of these three conditions in the horse, possible causes, veterinary diagnosis, and methods to treat and manage them.

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First Aid: Dealing With Diarrhoea

The amount of water in a horses droppings determines how loose they are, and mild cases of diarrhoea are usually nothing to worry about. Such episodes are frequently seen if a horse is upset or stressed for instance, when it is off to a show.

If an adult horse with diarrhoea is bright, well, eating and drinking, diarrhoea is unlikely to be an immediate emergency, but your vet should be contacted if it persists for more than 48 hours. However, if an adult horse with diarrhoea is ill particularly if it shows signs of colic or laminitis, or has a raised temperature you should consult your vet immediately. Any form of diarrhoea in a foal justifies contacting your vet the same day.

What to look for

If diarrhoea appears suddenly, with copious amounts of loose droppings being produced very frequently, a lot of fluids can be quickly be lost from the body. With profuse diarrhoea, a horse can rapidly become dehydrated and may lose more than 40 litres of water and electrolytes in a single day.

A horse can become very ill as a result of such rapid dehydration with potentially fatal complications ranging from laminitis to kidney failure. Such acute diarrhoea is properly called enterocolitis, as it causes severe gut inflammation and acute pain and distress.

Watch out for signs of dehydration, which include:

What you should do

To treat an adult horse suffering from diarrhoea, you should:

What causes diarrhoea?

Some potentially serious causes of diarrhoea include:

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