Senior horse and tummy troubles, update Not Ulcers
I take care of a senior horse for my friend. At each feeding, he gets one flake alfalfa, two-three flakes grass hay, and 1.5 lbs Buckeye Sr. His owner also gives him an Platinum product that I don't know the name of--it's a powder she mixes with applesauce and he yum-yums it down.
Last year he became very ill and was treated for Potomac Horse Fever, although it was not definitively diagnosed; he was treated with antibiotics. It seems as if his system hasn't been the same since. He had a minor colic about a month later and recovered fine.
His issue is this--he seems to lay down more than normal and it's almost always after he's eaten. His poops were fairly normal up to yesterday, but now they are cow flop soft. There could be some minor variations in the hay causing some softness, but I don't think that's the whole story.
He's in a stall for the night--14x14 so plenty of room to walk around--and his owner will call the vet in the morning. He has free choice salt and clean water at all times.
Any thoughts as to what's going on? (He's not been scoped for ulcers.)
ETA: He also gets 1 smartpack well of a sr vitamin for grass fed horses per day.
Last edited by katiehorse; Mar. 9, 2013 at 10:58 AM.
Reason: Additional info
This makes me think hind gut (colon) ulcers/ right dorsal colitis. Antibiotics can cause this and pain after eating is a symptom as the food hurts while it goes through the colon, and the loose poop is also a symptom of hind gut issues. If you do a google search you'll find lots of info. My guy is 4 months into treatment and doing extremely well. You might want to try Equishure by KER, it will help with the runny poop and help get things back in balance in his hind gut. Obviously I would seek your vet's opinion and I would ask about getting a blood test done and checking out his protein levels.
He had blood tests done. CBC and I can't remember what the other one was called (hemo....?) his protein levels were super low which the vet said basically indicated he was losing blood through the ulcers or somewhere. He was scoped and tummy showed no signs of ulcers although he had shown signs of ulcers and was treated with generic omep and then Gastroguard for 2 months without that much improvement. He was diagnosed mainly due to his symptoms - so bloated and gassy colicky all summer. He also FREAKED out when touched under his girth area. I suspected that he had hind gut ulcers from doing research all summer. Luckily the vet we had was the internal specialist from the University who was excellent.
I'm happy to say after 4 months he is a much happier boy and his protein levels are back within in normal range. To play it safe the vet wants 2 more months on the short fibre diet and then hopefully he'll be ok to eat hay again. I will also be very careful with how much grass he eats. He is really sensitive to the fructans in the grass. There is some connection between colon issues and sugar intolerance/laminitis. I think being on grass last summer aggregated his gassy and bloatedness.
And I would avoid giving banamine if possible. That will just make the ulcers worse sadly. I would give my gelding a handful of gas-x when he was gassy colicking and I think that took the edge off, but once again I'm not a vet. Good luck. I really hope he's ok and I hope you raise the hind gut ulcer theory with your vet. He does seem to have all the classic signs. My guy was much better within just one week of the diet switch. It is definitely curable
Vet has been out--she initially thought impaction colic even though he's pooped and she could hear good gut sounds--??? She ended up skipping the mineral oil, and gave him IV banamine and a dose of Ulcerguard. Drew blood and took a poop sample to check for fecal blood.
I sure hope we get some answers soon--it's so hard to see him in pain!
It's unfortunate about the banamine but I'm glad she took blood. I would do some googling of hind gut ulcers when you have the time. Everything you've said about him points towards them in my opinion. Good luck.
My old mare, 35, was doing some of the same: not eating heartily and laying down a lot. We put her on the gastrogard and she seems better. There has been lots of stress with new horses coming in so we think that might be something. We did bloodwork, etc., and gave her a physical: verdict was she is very healthy and will live forever (my husband fainted).
She also seems more interested in other horses' sweet feed than her own Nutrena Senior so we might try to "spice up" her dining choices, just not sure what to try that will entice her but not given her problems.
Anyone have suggestions? (She hates beet pulp and will not eat anything wet.)
Fat Dinah, I have heard that sugar and feeds that are high in it can aggravate ulcers. There are several "feed gurus" on here who may be able to give you some ideas on some feeds that are lower on the starch/sugar scale. Good luck to you!
Reay, he has not been eating all of his hay since this latest flare up. He only wants to eat the alfalfa--actually it is mixed with orchard grass, not straight alfalfa. When he is not having trouble, he will polish off all of his hay. He's also not been finishing his feed either. That was a big clue to me that we needed the vet.
His owner will continue with his Platinum Gastric Support (got the name of it now!), and a course of Ulcerguard to heal the existing flare up. She is going to follow vet's advice for follow up prevention and to get his iron levels back to normal.
It's a relief to finally get some answers although they are tentative pending the outcome of the more detailed lab work.
Bucksnort, I am not familiar with the term "short fibre diet?" Also, sorry about double post on bloodwork,my fat fingers sometimes press the wrong buttons on my smartphone Lol Thank you, too, for your help!
Sorry, I skipped ahead a bit. I assumed because of the blood test results that hind gut ulcers were suspected. If that's the case, a short fibre diet is the course of treatment. Short fibre diet means they are taken off hay competely and are only fed "short" fibre - ie hay cubes, hay pellets. The idea is that the colon needs time to heal and the short food is nice to the colon. The reason the horse is in so much discomfort after eating is the that the colon is irriated, food is not digested properly, and the food ferments in clumps through the hind gut, causing very painful gas to the horse and hence - a colic. The hind gut ulcers are thought to be caused by antibiotics and NSAIDs, like Bute and Banamine, which is why it's too bad that he was given Banamine yesterday but oh well.