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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun. 3, 2007
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    535

    Default Previously easy keeper losing weight after colic last October

    My warmblood has always been an air fern and we've often had to cut his rations down when he got too tubby. However, last October he colicked when the weather changed and he stopped drinking. He was in the hospital for 5 days but managed to pass the impaction without surgery.

    Since then, he's come back to full work and regular rations. His energy level is great, he's working well and his poop is normal. However, he's now too skinny and I can't seem to put weight back on him. His withers in particular are very bony.

    His appetite is good and he eats everything. He gets 3 flakes timothy and 1 alfalfa each day, split into three feedings. He also gets Renew Gold, biostar supplements, papaya puree, aloe vera juice and chia seeds.

    Nothing in his feed has changed since before the colic, but he's no longer an air fern. Has anyone every seen this before? Any suggestions? A recent fecal exam came back zero.
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  2. #2
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    May. 5, 2008
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    Glenelg, MD
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    Default

    Maybe a malabsorption problem related to the colic? If the villi in the intestine were destroyed it could possibly take months for them to come back. Until then, all nutrients in foods will not be fully utilized.



  3. #3
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    Jun. 3, 2007
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    That's what I'm worried about. What should I do: just bump up the quantity of feed? I was thinking about adding a scoop of timothy pellets to his am & pm grain to start with.
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  4. #4
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    Jun. 3, 2007
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    The impaction was in the large colon. I did a bit of research and it looks like that area doesn't have villi. Am I wrong? Could they still have been damaged by the stress of the colic even if the impaction wasn't in that specific area?
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  5. #5
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    Mar. 20, 2011
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    Default

    Adding some timothy pellets or some rice bran would help.
    As long as he's not getting too much alfalfa, already, you can add 1/2 a cup of alfalfa pellets, as well. Mine love the pellets soaked in warm water, 'til it's more like pea soup. I do a cup of pellets to a half or a full bucket of warm water.
    Be careful of stemmy hay or alfalfa, as it produces more gas, and can cause irritation in the stomach and intestines, so try to get the best quality timothy or orchard grass as you can. Mine learned not to eat the low quality hay, at a barn he was at, and dropped a lot of weight. Now that I'm in charge of buying the hay, and caring for him, he's had no problems.
    Good luck.



  6. #6
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    Dec. 9, 2012
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    Default

    Wait he only gets 4 flakes of hay a day? I would highly suggest upping that if possible. Most barns around here feed 2 to 3 flakes at least 3 times a day. (weight depending, of course). What does your vet say?



  7. #7
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    Feb. 26, 2008
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    Prebiotics, probiotics and live active cultures would be a thing to consider trying along with ulcer treatment/screening. What did your veterinarian recommend?
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  8. #8
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    Apr. 14, 2001
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    Minnesota
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    That hay might be BIG bales--can't say how much it really is without the poundage. But OP, keep in mind that a horse should get 1.5 - 2.5% of it's body weight in hay per day....more for a skinny one. If your horse isn't getting that, then he needs more hay.

    I would also be inclined to consider that perhaps the gut bacteria got FUBARed with his colic, and figure adding a really good probiotic could help and certainly not hurt.

    A lengthily hospitalization is also certainly a LOT of stress and could contribute to ulcers--stomach and hind gut both. Perhaps a course of omeprazole and KER's supplement for hind gut ulcers would be indicated?



  9. #9
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    Jun. 3, 2007
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    Los Angeles, CA
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    I think you're right about the ulcers, and the vet recommended a powerpack, too. I gave him a course of BioFlora for a month after the colic, so I don't think it's a probiotic/prebiotic issue.

    Re. the hay, we have big bales here. He's actually on more flakes than most horses. I think it adds up to about 17 lbs timothy, plus whatever the flake of alfalfa weighs.

    The main thing is that it's the diet he's thrived on for ages before the colic, and the same amount of hay he's had for 7 years. It's only since the colic that he's lost weight.

    I'll powerpack him next week and treat for ulcers, then see where we are. Thanks for all the suggestions, everyone.
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  10. #10
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    If his fecal count was zero and his intestines are upset, I would NOT powerpac him. I would definitely soak his feed, add alfalfa pellets, and consider a different probiotic. Different probiotics contain different organisms. You may need to try a different one. Once gut flora is upset, it can be difficult to reestablish.

    Good luck,
    PKN



  11. #11
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    Jun. 3, 2007
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    Hmm, now I'm confused. The vet said that some migrating larvae can cause weight loss but wouldn't necessarily show up on a fecal, which is why she suggested the powerpack. His poop is good and he's inhaling his feed so his intestines aren't really "upset" per se; it's more that he doesn't seem to be getting the full nutrients from the feed.

    We do soak his feed and I've started adding a scoop of timothy pellets, which he's VERY happy about! Maybe I should do another probiotic just to be on the safe side.

    I've also ordered some Ulser Shield in case the prolonged hospital stay (with no food for the first two days) has caused some hindgut ulcers. I'll let everyone know how he looks in a couple of weeks.
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  12. #12
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    Nope, no villi in the colon. I would not expect there to be residual problems from an impaction colic months ago unless there were something wrong. Are his teeth in reasonable condition? Has the quality of the hay stayed the same? I would go with what your vet recommended and, if you don't see him start to gain weight in a few weeks, start doing more diagnostics to look for reasons why he's losing weight with no change in feeding.



  13. #13
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    May. 17, 2010
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    I think you have to listen to your vet, even though I wouldn't powerpack personally. My horse did have a problem like this after his colic, although more severe. I had to strip him down to just alfalfa pellets and beet pulp, gradually adding feed back in. Whatever happened in the colic destroyed his hindgut. It took a long time to get him back to normal.



  14. #14
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    Aug. 14, 2002
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    How is your guy doing?



  15. #15
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    Jun. 3, 2007
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    Well, I PowerPac'd him and added 4lbs timothy pellets to his daily ration, and he seems to be slowly gaining the weight back. Not quite where I'd like him to be yet, but definitely better.

    Thanks for asking!
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  16. #16
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    Glad to hear he's doing better !



  17. #17
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    Apr. 28, 2009
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    Quote Originally Posted by SBrentnall View Post
    I think you're right about the ulcers, and the vet recommended a powerpack, too. I gave him a course of BioFlora for a month after the colic, so I don't think it's a probiotic/prebiotic issue.

    Re. the hay, we have big bales here. He's actually on more flakes than most horses. I think it adds up to about 17 lbs timothy, plus whatever the flake of alfalfa weighs.

    The main thing is that it's the diet he's thrived on for ages before the colic, and the same amount of hay he's had for 7 years. It's only since the colic that he's lost weight.

    I'll powerpack him next week and treat for ulcers, then see where we are. Thanks for all the suggestions, everyone.
    I breed warmbloods, and thus have all ages, sizes, shapes, and keeperness. I can guarantee that 17 pounds of timothy is not nearly enough hay, even with an unknown flake of alfalfa. Even if he used to be an easy keeper, right now he is not, so you need to tackle this from all angles. The power pack and prebiotics suggestions are good, and also check his teeth and deworming status. Even still, he needs more hay (premium cut). Actually, I would lose the alfalfa and just increase the timothy to 25 pounds a day. If that doesn't work, then increase it again to 30 pounds. You could add a balancer for vitamin/mineral roundedness. When he gains weight and gets to a good weight, decrease the hay to where he needs it in order to maintain.

    Are the pellets cheaper than hay in your area? Pellets are convenient, but a horse really craves the chewability factor so you may want to consider switching him to hay and decreasing the pellets. Just an idea.

    The general rule of thumb for all horses, especially warmbloods, is if they're eating maximum hay they can take in and still not keeping their weight, then add kibble. Grain, FWIW, can exacerbate ulcers. In your horse's case, I would be more inclined to cut the grain out completely and just stick with hay or combination hay + timothy pellets.

    Increased roughage in the diet tends to keep the bowels happy - less colic, less ulcers and a horse that is busy munching on plenty of hay is a horse that is not nibbling at the fence. Some of the wood chewing that goes on with some horses is not always boredom, but rather a fiber craving. In our situation, we also live in an area where the weather, especially in the spring, tends to be really erratic and so we add really mushy beet pulp just to keep the moisture up in the gut.

    Straight timothy has good protein - about 9-12% depending on the field and that is plenty of protein for an adult horse. It is balanced calcium to phosphorous with decent amounts of both for a well-rounded diet. Adding a balancer instead of grain just completes the vitamin/minerals required for health.

    I'm glad to hear he seems to be doing much better. It would be a tremendous relief to you, no doubt!
    Last edited by rodawn; Mar. 30, 2013 at 11:27 AM. Reason: Typos, obviously I need more caffeine . . . !!
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  18. #18
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    Jul. 16, 2008
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    Central US
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    Maybe he needs Dr. Time. A mare of ours who had a malabsorption problem came back to normal with poops and eating, but it took her over a year and a half to gain her weight back. Malabsorption syndromes take time to heal and throwing a lot of solutions at them can sometimes just confound the works.



  19. #19
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    Jun. 30, 2009
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    Quote Originally Posted by rodawn View Post
    I breed warmbloods, and thus have all ages, sizes, shapes, and keeperness. I can guarantee that 17 pounds of timothy is not nearly enough hay, even with an unknown flake of alfalfa. Even if he used to be an easy keeper, right now he is not, so you need to tackle this from all angles. The power pack and prebiotics suggestions are good, and also check his teeth and deworming status. Even still, he needs more hay (premium cut). Actually, I would lose the alfalfa and just increase the timothy to 25 pounds a day. If that doesn't work, then increase it again to 30 pounds. You could add a balancer for vitamin/mineral roundedness. When he gains weight and gets to a good weight, decrease the hay to where he needs it in order to maintain.
    I'm curious why you'd remove the alfalfa from a diet?

    I agree that 17lbs timothy + 1 flake of alfalfa seems like not enough hay, making up calories in the form of concentrates is seldom recommended after digestive upset.
    And given OP's observations (previously "air fern" to rather not, currently) I'd suspect that something has occurred to interfere with his gut bacteria or ability to absorb nutrients after his colic.

    I'd do another round of probiotics especially after the Power Pac - the weight gain may be due to the added pellets & nothing to do with the PP ...


    Glad to hear he's doing better !
    ^ This



  20. #20
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    Apr. 2, 2013
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    You could also try some sort of supplement where you are giving a daily dose of probiotics. A lot of different companies make great supplements that include probiotics, also beneficial live yeast cultures. Part of the benefit from yeast is the additional enzymes they produce that allow your horse to break down and better utilize their food. Several companies' digestive/gut formulas are including enzymes, as well, which can help your horse gain weight. The commercial livestock industry adds enzymes to animal feeds to help them gain weight because it is a cost-effective way to help them utilize their feed in the best way possible. My horses get a supplement with probiotics, yeast, enzymes (and a lot more... while I eat terrible cheap food because my horses ate all my money) and I have been able to cut back on the amount of hay I give to keep my horses at the same weight.



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