Thursday, October 11, 2012

Yearling's Swelling Caused by Protein Deficiency?

Tammy wrote and asked "I have a 10 month Blue Roan Tennesse Walking Horse. She has a swollen barrel so I had the Vet come out. He rubbed her belly and said she was low on protein but she did have a hernia that needed to be removed. He said the swelling was due to low protein, have you ever heard of this????"

Hey Tammy, while I wouldn't call this common (the swelling or edema on your yearling's barrel), it is not unheard of for a protein deficiency to cause non-painful swelling. The mechanism, as I understand it, is that sufficient protein provides a key nutrient that keeps fluid from leaking out of the blood vessels and causing the swelling. Your Vet was probably rubbing your filly's belly to see if there was any pain.  A lack of pain may indicate swelling from fluid buildup from a protein deficiency as opposed to swelling from trauma. 

I would think that a protein deficiency would be a more likely cause of the swelling than some sort of digestive problem where your filly could not breakdown and assimilate nutrients from her feed.

I would work with your Vet on a feeding solution. You may want to visit with the horse feed professionals at ADM Alliance Nutrition. There is a alot of information available at their website under Equine Library, including feeding growing horses.

ADM's spokeperson, Dr. Judy Reynolds, appears on RFD-TV to talk about feeding horses. They also have a telephone Nutrition hotline at 1-800-680-8254.

Your Vet should have talked to you about fixing the hernia. Sometimes hernias don't appear in foals until they are a little older and more active. Did he say what type of hernia?

There are two basic types of hernias: Inguinal and Umbilical hernias. With the Inguinal hernia usually being more serious and have a greater need for a quicker resolution which your Vet should be able to do with no lasting effects on the horse.

Let me know how it works out with your TWH. That's a great breed and Blue Roan is a pretty color. She ought to make a great riding horse for you. Good luck and safe journey.

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