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Chronic Diarrhea
Equines

 

 

Chronic diarrhea can be a frustrating condition to treat in equine practice. Diarrhea can develop as a result of a number of factors, including eating contaminated or unfamiliar feed, overeating grain, ingesting sand or dirt, infection by bacteria or viruses, diseases of the colon, inflammatory bowel disease, neoplasia, poisoning from plants, arsenic or phosphorus poisoning, and parasites. In many cases it is hard to find an exact cause, though food intolerances and allergies may play a larger role than previously thought. Natural compounds can reduce inflammation, improve intestinal flora balance, and improve fluid transfer across the gut wall.

 

 

RECOMMENDATIONS/SUPPLEMENTATION

 

Early treatment is essential when the signs or symptoms of diarrhea appear. Prolonged or chronic diarrhea will ultimately lead to a host of other medical issues from any ensuing malnutrition, electrolyte imbalance and dehydration.

 

Depending on the underlying cause of the diarrhea, broad-spectrum antibiotics may be given intravenously; or an oral medication may also be added to the drinking water. Typically the equine will also be given electrolyte therapy for critical re-hydration. Horses with severe or ongoing fluid, potassium and salt loss will require intravenous fluids. 

 

There is ongoing controversy surrounding the use of antibiotics in treating diarrhea for two primary reasons:

 

» The use of antibiotics may also damage the normal and beneficial population of intestinal bacteria (flora) which helps with digestion and protects the animal from other disease-causing bacteria.

 

» Antibiotics may inadvertently increase the number of antibiotic-resistant bacteria making future treatment more difficult.

 

Plasma with a high concentration of antibodies may also be administered through a tube passed into the stomach.  This medication helps heal the intestines, stimulate the intestinal immune system and bind the toxins produced by the bacteria.  Effectively -- and completely -- eliminating all bad bacteria from the horse’s body can be difficult and challenging.

 

A de-worming agent or another type of drug may also be needed to kill any parasite or bacteria causing the diarrhea depending on each specific case and diagnosis. 

 

Controlling and preventing diarrhea is always preferred for our beloved animals. Below are the immediate steps to take to minimize the occurrences of diarrhea.

 

» Only buy horses from reputable sources known to be free of diarrhea or disease.

 

» Isolate a new horse in a specific area for two weeks to catch signs of disease or diarrhea.

 

» Immediately isolate the horse if it does develop diarrhea.

 

» Schedule a thorough check-up with your veterinarian and carefully follow all recommendations.

 

» Ensure all feed and water supplies are free of fecal matter.

 

» Clean barns and stables thoroughly and disinfect often.

 

» Remove all feces promptly and dispose of it in an area away from the horses.

 

Integrative Medicine

 

 

Supplements which support healthy gut and hindgut (colon) function may be helpful. These supplements include:

 

» Prebiotics: These are sources of non-digestible, soluble fiber that serves as food for the probiotics (beneficial stomach bacteria);

 

» Probiotics:  These are the live microorganisms (bacteria and yeast) which promote healthy digestive and immune health. Research has shown that probiotics can help repopulate the intestine with the ‘good’ bacteria after antibiotic use and diarrhea;

 

» Yeast: a live microorganism which promotes digestive and immune health  (see Probiotics above);

 

» Psyllium: The seed husk of this plant is made of soluble fiber and is an excellent source of Prebiotics. Will help rid the colon of any sand build-up and may aid in the prevention of colic, impaction (an internal blockage of feces) and diarrhea;

 

» Oat Beta Glucan: Soluble fiber found in oats, barley and other cereal grains.

 

» Soothing herbs: Including licorice (an anti-inflammatory, anti-ulcer and soothing healer);

 

» Omega 3 Fatty Acids: Helps protect against inflammation. Flax seed is a good source for horses;

 

» Antioxidants: Are often depleted during diarrheal diseases, so supplementation can be very beneficial;

 

» Digestive Enzymes: Provide important enzymes to break down food. Some horses have a poor natural supply of enzymes due to inadequate gut health;

 

» L-Glutamine: Provides fuel for the enterocytes (the cells that line the gut wall). Very beneficial anytime the horse is eating poorly or has not eaten for a few days;

 

» Marshmallow: An herb that soothes inflammation or irritation in the gut wall;

 

» Ginger: Relieves inflammation in the gut, and has been shown to help treat bacterial diarrhea.

 

» Oregon Grape Root:  An herb that is similar to goldenseal, but is easy to grow, while goldenseal is becoming an endangered plant. It works against bacterial infections and some inflammatory gut conditions.

 

Chronic Diarrhea
(Reference: Veterinarians’ Desk Reference)


(Live Link)

 

Species affected: Equines.

 

Background: Causes of chronic diarrhea range from viruses, bacteria, and intestinal parasites to inflammatory processes, including immune-mediated conditions and cancer. Diarrhea is often due to food allergy as well as poor-quality food; if this is the case, dietary changes are required. Chronic parasitic diseases, cancer and other serious conditions may also manifest as chronic diarrhea and should be investigated. Exposure to toxins in the environment may also be involved.



Symptoms: Increased volume and/or frequency of stool.

 

Diagnostics: Stool evaluation, blood work, complete workup of any other systems that may be involved.

 

Special Notes: Emotional stress can directly affect the digestive tract and should also be evaluated. If horses have been ill for an extended period, and especially after a long course of antibiotics, the balance of normal intestinal flora is likely disrupted; this can allow an influx of pathogens to become established.

 

Principles for Supplementation: Probiotic supplementation is important, along with support for healing of the intestinal wall. Enzymes are important in many cases, especially for horses with poor digestion.

 

 

EQUINE PRODUCTS: CHRONIC DIARRHEA

 

FORMULAS

DOSAGE

MECHANISM/PURPOSE

ImmunoVET-EQ12

3-4 scoops sid

Enhances the immune system, supplies bioactive proteins, immunoglobulins and peptides.

CurcuVET-EQ12

1 scoop bid

Down-regulates the pro-inflammatory substances, tumor necrosis factor, alpha (TNF-α) and nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-κB), supports normal intestinal function.

Digestive Tonic14

4 tsp bid

Supports GI tract, clears Damp.

PRO BI1

5 mL bid

Corrects pH balance, favoring beneficial bacteria.

Gastriplex12

12-20 capsules sid

Supports enterocytes; improves local immune function.

Hilton Digest Plus2

1-2 scoops sid

Provides beneficial bacteria to repopulate the intestinal flora.

L-GlutamineVET12

3-10 tsp sid

Main fuel for enterocytes.

Bacillus CoagulansVET12

4-8 capsules sid

Beneficial gut bacteria.

GlutathioneVET12

6-12 capsules sid

Is a cofactor for dozens of enzymes involved in detoxification, provides hepatic support, improves bowel health.

 

 

EQUINE PRODUCTS: CHRONIC DIARRHEA (FOOD ALLERGY)

 

FORMULAS

DOSAGE

MECHANISM/PURPOSE

ImmunoVET-EQ12

3-4 scoops sid

Enhances the immune system, supplies bioactive proteins, immunoglobulins and peptides.

CurcuVET-EQ12

1 scoop bid

Down-regulates the pro-inflammatory substances, tumor necrosis factor, alpha (TNF-α) and nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-κB), supports normal intestinal function.

Hilton Digest Plus2

1-2 scoops sid

Provides beneficial bacteria to repopulate the intestinal flora, herbs soothe digestive tract.

Digestive Tonic Tonic14

4 tsp bid

Supports GI tract, Tonifies Spleen Qi, clears Damp, support immune system.

Chia Booster (chia seeds)19

1 scoop bid

Stabilizes membranes, source Omega 3 fatty acids.

Flax/Hemp Oil

3 tbsp sid

Anti-inflammatory; stabilizes membranes.

Gastriplex12

12-20 capsules sid

Supports enterocytes; improves local immune function.

L-GlutamineVET Powder12

3-7 scoops sid

Fuel for enterocytes; helps heal the gut wall.

Plantizyme12

6-8 capsules sid (with meals)

Digestive enzymes.

PRO BI1

5 mL bid

Supports beneficial gut bacteria.

B ComplexVET12

4-8 capsules sid

Replaces B vitamins when the GI bacterial flora are not making enough.

 

To help you quickly find the right Integrative Medicine formulas and manufacturers to help treat your dogs, cats and horses, please refer to the Veterinarians’ Desk Reference
(Click Here)

 

 

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