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Delayed Gastric Emptying

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  • Delayed Gastric Emptying

    what is it? Through my never ending quest to figure out if it's safe for my horse to ever try hay again, this term is new to me. I saw it on these boards on a different string I have going.

    Is it a permament condition or temporary? How is this diagnosed?

  • #2
    I'm off to work so will write more later.
    It's diagnosed by gastric scoping. Fast the horse, then scope and if there's still lots of stuff in the stomach and it takes days to clear it out, it's called delayed gastric emptying. DGE can cause gastric impactions. Not fun for horse, or owner.

    Short version


    • #3
      My mare has this. It was found via scoping, as leaf said. I believe Dr. Morressey from Rood and Riddle said that she has low gut motility.

      I have her on a small amount of soaked beet pulp, M-10 by McCauley Brothers and EquiShure, by KER. The EquiShure helps with hindgut motility.

      A couple of years ago, my mare had multiple impaction and gas colics. With this feeding program, so far, so good.
      When in Doubt, let your horse do the Thinking!


      • Original Poster

        No easy way to find someone with a Gastroscope where I live.

        My horse transistioned to soaked hay cubes and purina senior 4 years ago after a very nasty bout with Right Dorsal Colitis. We have seen what we guess to be gastric ulcers since then too. After a few months (maybe it was 6-7?) we tried him back on hay, but he started "colicling" again so we went back to mush. Its been 4 years and I am trying to figure out what is still wrong here. I have been to chicken to try hay again since.

        He has gas colics, little "ulcer" attacks (they only last an hour, go away with just some rompum), and after being stall rested for the first time this spring we had 2 impactions which were new to the array of his issues.

        He eats 3lbs of senior and 2 quarts (sorry, don't know the wieght) of alfalfa cubes all soaked in a regular water bucket to the lip with water, 3x a day. If he had delayed gastric emptying, would I be seeing more impactions?

        The lack of hay led to some bad boredom habits, more ulcer activity (we guess) and I'm starting to wonder if 4 years later, could hay ever be an option again. (have been talking to vet about it, but curious to hear what the armchair vets out there think).


        • #5
          My friend's young horse had this - he took months to recover from the first episode, and when he started with the same thing a 2nd time they opted to put him to sleep because he was so miserable and he'd be going through this repeatedly.

          Sorry I don't have a more hopeful input for you. But if your horse is doing well on the current diet, why change anything ?


          • #6
            My mare has been diagnosed with delayed gastric emptying...dge.

            She also has a pyloric stenosis...a narrowing of the pylorus which causes her to have to eat things as if they go through her stomach no larger than a straw.
            Sooo, no hay, no bedding(she eats shavings).

            I think once they have dge, its not like they get over it. Its a condition.

            It can be managed.

            My mare had years of being undiagnosed, and believe me I was going to the supposed best vet docs in northern new england. She was very depressed, had continual chokes...from an impaction in her stomach that basically filled her stomach, so there was no more room, yet she was starving, would eat, choke, reflux, etc.

            Due to the impaction, it caused serious ulcers from abraiding her abdominal wall, and also so severe they leaked and caused perotinitis.

            Finally, after going south, she got sick and went to UGA where they did a gastric scope. It was there that the impaction was discovered.
            After fasting for 24 hours, her stomach would still be full, thus the dge.

            In order to break up the impaction(in the abdomen), they tubed her with coca cola...yup, that stuff will break up gastric impactions.

            Due to her condition, she will never be on hay.
            Instead, she gets a soaked ration balancer, soaked alfalfa pellets and soaked hay stretcher pellets.

            Are you able to get her to a clinic where they could scope? Sometimes, merial will do free scopes, because they want you to buy their product(gastrogard and ulcergard).

            After the initial diagnosis, she was fed every 2 hours for a month, 2 pounds of soaked feed. It was due to the severity of the ulcers and they were afraid they would perforate her stomach.
            After a month, she went back, looking like a super star, and had a very bad impaction of shavings and hair. It took 8 days to break that up, with the mare fasting the entire time. it was horrid.
            a month later she went back, and no impaction.

            We also tried accupuncture, but she would colic...which we thought was due to the gut motility but cramping due to the small pylorus. So no accupuncture for her.

            She is on 1 tube of ulcergard a day(she weighs 2,000 pounds) and bethanchol, a gut motility drug.

            we have decided no more scopes unless she needs it. it is very hard on her to be scoped, well not the scoping but the fasting.

            It is very difficult to diagnose without the gastric scope a dge.
            I agree, it it works, then keep doing what you are doing.

            I would keep things as smoothie like as possible. I like to think my mare is only allowed smoothies, and she does get turned out on short stemmed grass.
            save lives...spay/neuter/geld


            • #7
              Thanks Fivehorses. Now all I have to say is Ditto

              While Fivehorses' mare has pyloric stenosis, my guy has (so the theory goes), a disruption in the electrical signals that drive gastric functions.
              Can't be cured, but can be managed.

              However, my accupuncture vet feels she can fix this horse. Yes, she said fix.
              I'm cautiously optimistic. She does electro-accupuncture. I happened to ask her last week if she thought the horse would ever be able to eat hay again. She said, not this winter, but perhaps next. I don't want to get my hopes up, but wouldn't that be something?

              She also has us on Chinese herbs, Dr. Xie Jing Tang's Happy Earth. It's good for motility. Also grated fresh ginger.

              My draft horse also has EPSM. While the majority of my vets say this has absolutely nothing to do with motility, Dr. Valentine and the accupunture vet say it can. The accupuncture vet is quite adamant about this.

              Good luck to you PunkeyPony. I understand your worries about hay. You could go the try- and -see route by offering small amounts, but I'd be too afraid. It's the error part of trial and error that's so serious.

              Do keep us up-dated on your horse. That goes for the rest of you who have the dreaded DGE. It helps to compare notes.


              • #8
                Hey Leaf, we will have to chat again. Interesting about the chinese herbs...want to know more.

                Never heard back from the vet up here.

                How much grated ginger?

                Well, we have to chat, since your experience with the accupunturist vet.

                Punkey pony, you cannot imagine my desire to just throw my mare a flake of hay...its hard, but I know its not good for her.
                I wonder, hmmm, I wonder if she could manage it, but like leaf said, the consequences may be more than I want to deal with.

                good luck.
                save lives...spay/neuter/geld


                • #9
                  My mare was scoped and found to have DGE as well. We battled this for a few years until she had an emergency colic trip to the vet. It was discovered during surgery that she had an adhesion from a previous surgery that was preventing the contents of her stomach from emptying. We could have lost her to a stomach rupture but she survived the event and is now living life as a normal horse. She is plump and very happy now, while before the surgery we struggled with keeping weight on her while we tried to figure out how to feed her. I wish I had elected exploratory surgery, we might have been able to find it much sooner.
                  Last edited by Ticker; Oct. 20, 2012, 11:29 AM. Reason: Extra word


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Ticker View Post
                    My mare was scoped and found to have DGE as well. We battled this for a few years until she had an emergency colic trip to the vet. It was discovered during surgery that she had an adhesion from a previous surgery that was preventing the contents of her stomach from emptying. We could have lost her to a stomach rupture but she survived the event and is now living life as a normal horse. She is plump and very happy now, while before the surgery we struggled with keeping weight on her while we tried to figure out how to feed her. I wish I had elected exploratory surgery, we might have been able to find it much sooner.
                    Ticker, do ou know what they did...where was the adhesion?

                    We discussed doing surgery to basically bypass the pylorus and have the stomach empty into the duodendum.
                    It was quite risky with low percentage of surviving.
                    Additionally, surgery on the stomach is exceptionally difficult, and this is a draft horse too.
                    I guess I'd like to hear more about your horse's surgery.
                    save lives...spay/neuter/geld


                    • #11
                      As I recall, the adhesion was restricting the output of the stomach and they were simply able to remove it. It was like a rubber band that constricted the opening. The stomach expanded with food until it fell over the band and was completely shut off causing pain and symptoms of colic. She would literally become painful shortly after eating. We had her on camera so we saw her symptoms. After her stomach contents slowly emptied she would eat more and the cycle of pain would start again.

                      I discussed it with my vet about the exploratory but nobody likes to open them up unless it is really necessary.


                      • #12
                        Hi all!

                        I know that the topic is from a year ago, but my horse just got diagnosed with DGE after a colic surgery 2 months ago, and I would like your advice.

                        As you can imagine he lost a lot of weight due to the surgery, and with his new condition, I don't know how to feed him to get him back on shape. Currently he gets 3 kg of haycobs + 2 kg of hay + 3L of pellets per day. It's obviously not enough for a 600kg horse (sorry i'm european so I don't know anything about pounds ...).

                        How do you feed your DGE horse? do you give supplements?

                        Any help is very much appreciated! thx


                        • #13
                          Hi Louise61, sorry about your horse's DGE diagnosis.
                          My horse gets a pelleted feed that I soak prior to feeding. I used to feed Triple Crown Lo Starch but have switched to alfalfa and timothy pellets-soaked. I do feed a vitamin/mineral supplement as well. And a little extra magnesium and Vit E. This horse is on short grass pasture too, so his weight stays fine.
                          During the summer, when the grass is good, I only feed twice a day, and a lb. per feeding.
                          In the winter I have to feed him 5 times a day because he gets no hay. I feed about 2-3 lbs. each feeding.
                          Good luck to you, I hope your horse steadily improves