Sunday, April 4, 2010

Horse Health Care – Treating Non Specific Diarrhea

Most of us, at one time or another had a horse with very loose manure or actual diarrhea. I had previously written a post on how I treat horses with loose manure. That post can be reviewed here: Common Horse Problems – Loose Manure Feb 8, 2010.

I will not hesitate to have my vet make a farm call, however I also do not like to waste her time nor my money, so usually I do what I can do to solve my own problems. Sometimes that helps the Vet as my treatment(s) and lack of resolving the problem will aid in her diagnosis if I do have the Vet come out. And again, I keep my Vet on speed dial and will not hesitate to ask the Vet to make a farm call.

Back to loose manure. In my experience a common cause of loose manure is too much sand in the system as the horse ingests sand from grazing on the ground. I feed in large buckets to minimize the horses consuming sand, but they still consume some. Usually, I put the horse on a seven day sand treatment like Sand Clear or Miracle Sand Out pellets added to their grain. In some cases, I’ll give the horse a dose of probiotics a couple days apart. This, combined with a weekly bran mash usually clears up the loose manure.

If the loose manure doesn’t clear up, or if the manure is actually diarrhea, or if I think the horse may have some gut discomfort, maybe from a new cut of alfalfa or a higher protein cut like 1st cut, I’ll give the horse Bismuth Subsalicylate (Bismuth Suspension). Bismuth Subsalicylate is a Pepto Bismol type product which neutralizes bacteria and bacterial toxins in the gut.

Due to the excretion of water through the diarrhea, I’ll monitor the water intake and in some case give the horse an electrolyte paste, or electrolyte powder in his grain, and soak his hay in water to help him get sufficient water.

For adult horses, I generally give 8 ounces of Bismuth Subsalicylate every 4 to 6 hours for usually a day and a half, but no more than two days. If there is no resolution to the diarrhea, I call my Vet for an exam, which occasional results in tubing the horse with a water and mineral oil mixture.

I should note that the label on the Bismuth Subsalicylate (Bismuth Suspension) indicates 6 to 10 ounces every 2 to 3 hours is the common dose for adult horses. I us a large stainless steel bolus syringe to get this into the horse orally.

Several years ago, I had a horse get out and into the hay barn eating a large amount of alfalfa and causing him to colic. Part of the treatment, after the Vet tubed him and after administration of Banamine (Fluxomine), and until I was able to get down to the Vet Supply and buy some Bismul Suspension (Bismuth Subsalicylate), I gave my horse unflavored Maalox. Maalox ingredients consists of Aluminum hydroxide (Antacid), Magnesium hydroxide (Antacid) and Simethicone (Antigas) and served to counter the enzyme reactions and gut discomfort caused by eating too much alfalfa. I only did this upon the suggestion of the Vet.

In any event I think the horse owner needs to be able to use non-invasive or non-risk treatments in order to rule out larger problems, but on the other hand the horse owner needs to not be shy at all about talking to his/her vet about treatment. A simple phone call and suggestion or treatment confirmation to go along way to ensuring you are on the right approach.

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