Archive for the ‘Horse’ Category

Managing Your Horse’s Gastric Health

Thursday, July 25th, 2019

Gastric discomfort may negatively affect a horse’s health, attitude, and performance. Check out these tips to manage your horse's gastric health.Gastric discomfort may negatively affect a horse’s health, attitude, and performance. Fortunately, recognizing signs of discomfort and providing proper management can help support your horse’s gastric health.

Did you know that the prevalence of gastric discomfort in active horses is high? Studies indicate that the prevalence of gastric ulcers in performance horses is 90% or more1

What causes gastric discomfort in horses?

As grazing animals, horses are made to steadily eat a forage-based diet throughout the course of an entire day. This constant slow-feed intake naturally regulates the acidity of the horse’s stomach contents. Additionally, the saliva a horse generates through chewing naturally buffers the acid.

Modern horse-keeping practices often limit feeding to two or three daily meals. Unless a horse is turned out to graze or barn staff frequently refills the hay supply, the horse doesn’t receive more hay until the next feeding.
Even though the horse isn’t eating, his stomach still produces acid. Without chewing, there isn’t a steady source of saliva and natural enzymes to help protect the stomach. An overabundance of acid and a lack of saliva means the stomach’s natural pH level drops too. These factors create the trifecta for gastric discomfort.

Stress can also put horses at a greater risk for gastric discomfort. Rigorous exercise, long-distance travel, a new environment, and confinement can contribute to lower gastric pH levels.

What are the signs of gastric discomfort in horses?

Gastric discomfort can present differently in individual horses. Common signs of equine gastric discomfort include:

  • Poor appetite
  • Picky eating
  • Poor body condition
  • Weight loss
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Poor coat condition
  • Teeth grinding (bruxism)
  • Changes in behavior, including aggression, nervous behaviors, side biting and “girthiness”
  • Acute or recurring colic
  • Poor performance

How to manage a horse with gastric discomfort

Research has shown continuous acid production and low gastric pH can contribute to the development of gastric ulcers and Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome (EGUS)1. Fortunately, there are things you can do to minimize your horse’s risk for developing EGUS and manage a horse with gastric discomfort.

1. Recognize factors or events known to cause gastric discomfort in horses.

Some factors include:

  • Environment stressors
  • Lack of turnout
  • Injury
  • Fasting
  • High starch diets
  • Inadequate forage
  • Prolonged use of NSAIDs
  • Travel
  • Elevated exercise, training, showing or racing

2. Recognize the signs of gastric discomfort in horses.

Common signs are listed above, but individual horses present discomfort in different ways. Become familiar with your horse’s normal behavior to help determine if behavior changes are a sign of discomfort.

3. When to seek help from your veterinarian.

Work with your veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment if you recognize risk factors or symptoms. Gastroscopy is the only way to confirm the presence of gastric ulcers, and prescription acid suppression therapy may be required to heal ulcerations. If treatment is necessary, work with your veterinarian to determine the best medication for your horse.

4. Manage gastric discomfort.

Develop a management program to minimize the factors contributing to gastric discomfort. Provide ample turnout and continuous access to fresh water. Anticipate stressful events, such as traveling or showing, and use Purina® Outlast® Gastric Supplement to support and maintain gastric health and proper pH during those times.

5. Horse nutrition.

Choosing the right feed products and implementing good feeding management practices are vital in managing your horse’s gastric health.

  • Never allow more than six hours of fasting and provide frequent access to good quality hay and/or pasture.
  • Incorporate alfalfa into your horse’s diet.
  • Feed higher fat and fiber concentrates and avoids high starch and sugar feeds. The Purina horse feed lineup includes many appropriate options
  • Support optimal gastric pH by feeding Purina® Outlast® Gastric Support Supplement along with concentrate meals. In addition, feed Outlast®1 supplement as a snack before you ride, trailer or show to maximize gastric support during these activities.
  • For horses needing more calories, Purina® Ultium® Gastric Care and Race Ready® GT horse feeds both contain a full serving of Outlast® supplement and are designed to support gastric health and caloric needs of performance and racehorses. Strategy® GX  and Strategy® Healthy Edge® and Impact® Professional Performance horse feeds now also all contain Purina® Outlast® Gastric Support Supplement.

By recognizing the signs associated with gastric discomfort and adjusting management and dietary practices, you can help support your horse’s gastric health. Learn more about Outlast® supplement and your horse’s gastric health at FeedOutlast.com.

 Source: Kelly Vineyard, M.S., Ph.D., Senior Nutritionist, Equine Technical Solutions

Basics of Electrolytes for Horses

Wednesday, June 19th, 2019

Basics of Electrolytes for HorsesLet’s face it, the summer heat takes its toll…know the basics of electrolytes for horses to protect them! Based on the article, horses use their sweat to regulate their body temperature. Equine sweat is more concentrated with salt (sodium and chloride) than other body fluids. In result, horses lose a tremendous amount of electrolytes during these harsh, hot summer months. So what exactly are electrolytes? They help the body regulate water levels to maintain a balance between dilution and dehydration. There are five major electrolytes. These include sodium, chloride, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Understanding how each one affects your horse is vital.

  1. Sodium and Chloride: These two play a factor in maintaining blood volume. They are the first to be released when a horse sweats. Imagine Sodium and Chloride as partners. Sodium leaves the body in sweat first, then water follows.
  2. Potassium: This is one of the most important electrolytes to your horse. It is required for muscle contraction and relaxation. Some horses require more or less than others in their diet but it is still present in a healthy horse.
  3. Calcium: This is essential for muscle function. Without this electrolyte, your horse’s body will break down and become weak.
  4. Magnesium: This is a vital component of body fluids.

Maintaining a balance between these can be tricky. Giving a dehydrated horse concentrated electrolytes can actually worsen conditions. But don’t worry, we have a solution! For starters, all horses should have free-choice access to loose salt or a salt block. Good-quality forage should provide adequate potassium. Together, these feedstuffs should provide sufficient electrolytes for the average horse. For any additional information, see the whole article here.

Presented by Kentucky Equine Research

 

Spring and Summer Horse Health Tips

Thursday, April 11th, 2019

Spring and Summer Horse Health Tips

Spring and Summer Horse Health Tips

Our experts have gotten together to provide some information and tips on how to keep your horse healthy and comfortable in the ever-changing seasons. When spring and summer arrive, so do hot temperatures! You can’t forget the new plants, allergies, insects, and pests.

Here are a few compiled some tidbits to help you avoid some complications:

  • In the spring and early summer, make the transition from hay to pasture feeding slowly. While spring sprouts are lower in sugar and starch, horses crave fresh and will overeat which is especially dangerous to overweight horses, or those that have experienced insulin-resistant laminitis.
  • It is very important to maintain regular vaccinations, deworming, and dental exams. Check with your veterinarian about seasonal vaccinations. Keep a detailed calendar of when your horse needs to be wormed. Also checking with your vet or equine dentist to establish a regular float schedule is very important to your horse’s health.
  • Always make sure there is fresh, clean, ample supply of water. Different things will affect the amount of water your horse needs including outside temperature, workload, feed, size, and health.

We hope you have learned some useful tips about spring and summer horse health. If you have any questions, feel free to contact our store!

Keeping Your Horse Cool In the Summer

Tuesday, June 12th, 2018

Keeping Your Horse Cool In the Summer

Cool as a cucumber … but what if you are a horse! Summer heat and humidity can be a dangerous combination for active horses.

“Heat and humidity affect the horse, and with intense exercising, the excess heat has difficulty dissipating,” notes Dr. Glennon Mays, clinical associate professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.

“Heat is a normal by-product of working muscles and increases during periods of increased exercise,” explains Mays. “Normally a horse cools itself by sweating which causes heat loss and thus its body cools as sweat evaporates from the skin’s surface.”

When humidity is high, less moisture can evaporate from the skin surface. Therefore the surface blood vessels will enlarge to help rid the horse’s body of excess heat.

“Overheating, or hyperthermia in the horse is due to a disturbance in the heat regulating mechanism of the horse’s body,” says Mays. “In addition to summer heat and humidity, poor stable ventilation, prolonged exposure to sun, extreme exercise, transportation/trailering stress, as well as excess weight and poor conditioning may contribute to overheating.”

“If your horse does become overheated, move the horse to a shady area or to a cool, well-ventilated barn. Then spray with cool water and place ice packs on the horse’s head and large blood vessels on the neck and the inside of its legs,” states Mays. “Be careful to not spray the horse’s face or get water in its ears; just sponge these areas gently.”

Horses naturally tend to “cool out” while walking rather than standing still, notes Mays. Therefore, application of ice packs can be challenging.

Allow the horse to have several swallows of cool, clean, fresh water every few minutes. There is a possibility of colic if your horse drinks large quantities of water in a short period of time.

“To help your horse beat the heat, provide plenty of fresh, cool water,” notes Mays. “Keep water bucket or trough clean to promote drinking. Average size work horses can consume over 25 gallons of water per day when the temperature is above 70 degrees.”

Limit strenuous riding to late evening or early morning when the temperature is lower. Use less tack in the hot summer by minimizing saddle pads and leg boots. Also clip your horse’s coat and keep its mane and tail trimmed.

Heat stroke can happen to horses whether they are working hard, standing in stifling stables, or traveling in unventilated trailers, notes Mays. Call a veterinarian and take immediate action if your horse has elevated respiration or pulse (in an inactive horse), body temperature above 103 degrees, or irregular heart beat.

“Do the skin pinch test to check your horse’s hydration,” says Mays. Test for dehydration by pinching the skin along the horse’s neck. The skin should snap back quickly. If the pinched area collapses slowly the horse is dehydrated.
Hot weather does require that you give your horse special care. But, you and your horse can lessen summer’s hot days when you practice these cool tips to beat the heat.

Source: Pet Talk. Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be viewed on the Web at http://tamunews.tamu.edu.

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