I never had a horse with this problem, but a friend has a young horse with very serious colonic ulcers. She was feeding hay really high in sugar and fructan. It's a theory of mine that fermentation of high fructan hay that forms lactic acid might cause or at least exacerbate this problem.
It would be very interesting to see what the WSC content of your hay is. Carb profile at www.equi-analytical.com costs $26 or so.
Since it's easy to soak out fructan, you might try soaking hay for a couple of weeks to see if it seems helpful.
If you try this, would appreciate hearing back if it helped.
I have a horse that had right dorsal colitis brought on by a sensitivity to bute. His diagnosis was by ultrasound. As I understand it, that is the only way to diagnosis it except post-mortem. Ultrasound can detect gut wall thickening which is indicative of areas of inflammation. Even then, you need a good ultrasound machine and a good person reading the results. Best to have it done at the biggest teaching hospital near you.
For treatment, we started with 10 days of sucralfate (3 times a day) and a month of gastroguard (he had some stomach ulcers). He was put on an equine senior diet and NO hay. This is what's important-reduce the roughage. A complete senior diet will be much easier to digest. It's best to break it up into multiple feedings per day-at least 4 but better 6. Obviously you have to slowly increase the amount of senior he gets until you're at the right amount. The idea here is to rest the gut and let it heal. Don't ask it to process dry, bulky fiber. Water intake is also crucial.
Getting your horse to accept a non-hay diet is the hard part. They won't have much chewing time on this diet and can start chewing down the barn. I ended up tossing him a few handfuls of hay to satisfy him (against vet's orders). Also, letting them graze for 5-10 minutes 3 times a day is good for their mental state as well as their gut.
The modified diet is continued for at least 3 months. At that time, another ultrasound should be performed. If things look ok, you can slowly transfer back onto hay.
My horse had an impaction colic 3 months after going back onto hay. I now have him on a 1/2 hay, 1/2 pellet diet and he's been fine for 2 years (knock on wood). Otherwise, he has no limitations or lasting effects from the RDC except he can't have bute or other NSAIDs.
Treating RDC is no walk in the park. It takes committment on your part to get through those 3 months. They are hell time-wise. Good luck!
RDC can be deadly...and you're extremely lucky to have had it diagnosed because it's next to impossible to diagnose accurately without a necropsy...which is how most seem to be diagnosed unfortunately.
Normally it's diagnosed as a process of elimination and whatever symptoms it's showing. Ultrasound can catch a select few cases...sometimes they will attempt to diagnose laproscopically. 90% of the time they just start treatment since the treatment is harmless anways.
I had a great little gelding who got RDC from banamine...3 lousy days of half doses. He was dehydrated at that time due to having a stone and not drinking during that. RDC is not always caused by long term or high doses of NSAIDs...horses can get RDC from short term small doses of NSAIDs, especially is dehydrated.
My gelding got an immediate diet switch only...and even though it was diagnosed after quite a long time of symptoms (30 days exactly) he recovered 100%. Did a ton of research on it then...ulcer meds don't seem to be the normal treatment since the meds rarely reach the right dorsal area of the colon. But swapping the diet by removing *all* stem hay and all grains worked 100% and seems to be the most common recommended treatment. My gelding was taken off of hay & grain completely...hay irritates the ulcer and can get stuck in the right dorsal if there's been thickening there due to the ulcer. Grain also gets stuck in the ulcerated area and causes pain and irritation. I swapped him to 6 smaller meals per day of soaked timothy cubes, they do best on small meals so not much is passing through the right dorsal area at one time and the meals need to be soft and mushy to give that area the rest and time it needs to heal itself.
The tough part is keeping them on the RDC diet...4-6 meals per day, all soaked soft foods for 3 months so the ulcer can heal and the colon can rebuild it's mucus lining without irritation. After 3 months slowly phase in soaked amounts of chopped hay/dengi. By month 4-5 you can start adding small amounts of soaked softened hay and then slowly by 5-6 months have hay brought back into the diet, last add the grain back in slowly. A very few horses will have had that area of the colon thicken and stay that way which can raise the chances of an impaction colic if the horse is on a lot of hay. But most heal just fine. That gelding is now 100% healthy and back on regular hay and doing just fine. Astounding considering the day we started the RDC diet was the same day I had made the appointment to have him put down since there was little thought he'd make it and he was suffering quite a bit. All symptoms stopped within 24 hours of getting him totally off of hay and grain.
The feed schedule can be tough to stick to for so long, but it's a pretty simple "cure" and has a very high success rate.
Good luck...RDC sucks out loud.
ETA ...like the above poster stated...equine senior or hay replacer also works. Water is extremely important...they need lots of extra water during the entire 3 months. Which is why I soaked everything my gelding got for those months...he was getting about 12-14 gallons of water per day in his many soupy meals and didn't even need to drink extra plain water. If you're boaring you need to let the BO/BM/Staff know that your horse absolutely can NOT have hay or grain and absolutely can NOT miss a soupy meal. At least one good thing about the diet change...the horses all seem to love it. They think they're getting rewards for doing nothing every single day since they get so many soupy mash-like treats, LOL! My gelding had a pretty green nose for months from diving into his soaked cubes...he never lost an ounce.
You jump in the saddle,
Hold onto the bridle!
Jump in the line!
RDC causes colic like symptoms...mostly after eating. (when what they ate passes through the right dorsal section of the colon it hurts like hell) Severe abdominal pain after eating, usually sweating on sides, lack of appetite, less drinking-especially very cold water, temperature, diarrhea is common but not every horse gets that, weight loss and lethargy. It's different symptoms than stomach ulcers since the colic symptoms appear after eating hay or grain and last an hour or two and then subside after the food passes the right dorsal area. The horse can eat a meal, seem fine and then within a short time go from 100% normal to lying on it's side, heavy breathing, full or partial body sweat, groaning, etc. My gelding would be standing there bright and fine, eat a meal and within 10-20 minutes after eating go down as if someone shot him and be in *severe* pain for a good hour or two. Then go from that to jumping back to his feet and being 100% again. Since I had never heard of RDC before my gelding got it (and neither had my dumb as a sack of hammers new vet at that time) the symptoms really threw me for a loop!
Horses usually don't get the pain from grazing though...soft grass with a high moisture content usually passes fine through the inflamed area. We didn't have any grass turnouts so feed hay 4x per day and that poor gelding went down hard 4x per day. Since the issue wasn't diagnosed for a good 30 freaking days...I was extremely worried that once we figured out it was RDC it could have progressed to being ulcerated all the way through. His temp was pretty higher by then, was worried he was septic and undiagnosed RDC is fatal for that reason. I can't even describe how relieved I was when I started the RDC diet and as soon as my horse was on the soaked mushy and oily feeds only and no longer got any hay or grain...he didn't have a single pain episode after that. Not one. I watched him like a hawk for a long while after starting the diet, terrified he'd go downhill again but he was pretty much normal as soon as the diet started.
RDC is one helluva pita problem...deadly as hell if not treated in time. yet next to impossible to diagnose. And another YET...the 'cure' is at least a very simple diet change so at least if you suspect it and are worried that you can't get a firm diagnosis you can still start the diet change and not worry about harming them with the treatment.
And as others have stated...the diet change may be simple but it's not easy on the human. My feed and soaking feed schedule was brutal since it was during the winter and since he had been so damned sick for such a long time I had been up all night most nights in the barn and had mono from lack of sleep and being run down. So needless to say the diet made him perk right up and I was a nightmare of a walking mess for those 6 feedings daily for 3 months, LOL!
You jump in the saddle,
Hold onto the bridle!
Jump in the line!
My horse did not present with the acute painful episodes after eating. Instead, he became lethargic and wouldn't eat. Then he developed a fever, his sheath swelled up, dand he developed pitting edema along the underside of his belly and his chest.
Classic symptoms of RDC are diarrhea (although not always present), pitting edema, fever, and low blood albumin levels.
Sucralfate is effective for ulcers of the hind gut. Not a cure necessarily but will ease the symptoms where other ulcer meds can't. Important to feed it at least 3x a day. It's sweet so horses tend to eat it readily (I mix it right into the grain). Make sure you shake the bottle really well.
"I have never let my schooling interfere with my education." - Mark Twain
My 8 year old gelding started colic attacks in January. By the beginning of March I had had enough and my vet wanted to do an Endiscope for gastric ulcers. Which in fact he did have. So now 28 days into gastrogaurd and alot of $$ he worsened. At the time of his endiscope they tested for parasites as well. They came up positive so a different vet, as mine was now on vacation had me use Panacur power-pak. Two days into that and he dropped. So I stopped it continued with gastroguard and the vet had me finish the power pak but use a small dose of banamine for the colic. BAD idea, as he has every symtom of RDC now except diarrhea. But has always had an appitite. After 20-30 minutes of eating hay, he goes down with a good amount of pain. When it subsides hes up and wanting to eat again. Back and forth now with two vets working together, and myself observing him all day. I am the one who has been questioning the fact that he has RDC. Looking for help as I have read power-pak can cause intestinal ulcers fourteen days after administering it. Now I want to take him off all hay and try the diet to resolve his discompfort. Will he go colicy on me for an immediate diet change to Timothy cubes soaked in water? I have been just soaking his hay as of today. He has not dropped as of yet. I started corn oil two days ago. How long before I see a change? And anyone know if they can start exercising soon? Any support I will appreciate.
I started a thread on this earlier today but didn't get a lot of responses. What surprises me is that there is little treatment available apparently, e.g. all that's mentioned here is sucralfate (what is it?) and the healing is expected to just occur naturally over time? The info I have found so far thru google searches is that L-glutamine seems to promote healing of the mucosal membrane, and slippery elm and DGL help soothe the inflammation. But it is not entirely clear which part of the digestive tract that is supposed to help.
I have ordered some sulcrafate, my understanding is its much the same as pepto bismal in that it coats the lineing of the intestine and allows healing to begin. I am just so nervous about anything I give him. I really think diet is the cure but helping the discompfort asap is what I am desperate for. Lots of sleepless nights. Also the weight loss is making him edgey. Know anything about the Timothy cubes?? anyone also the senior in his diet as well. HOW MUCH! each feeding. I can feed six times a day but not sure on the amounts. Waiting on a return call from the vets But this whole thing is making me nuts!