Loose droppings and feed intolerance

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    We’ve all heard about dietary intolerances in humans, but could loose droppings be a sign that your horse is intolerant to certain ingredients in their food?

    We ask Claire Lawrence, nutritionist for Allen & Page, and H&H veterinary expert Karen Coumbe MRCVS what might cause loose droppings and how to solve the problem.

    The nutritionist says: “Loose or watery droppings are often a sign that all is not well with the horse. This can potentially be associated with any ingredient with a high sugar content such as molasses, which has a similar effect to spring grass.

    “A low-starch, high-fibre diet that cuts out the most common offending ingredients can often be helpful in these cases.”

    The vet says: “Too much concentrates can cause loose droppings and may well be an indication that a particular feed does not agree with a particular horse.

    “Part of the reason why intolerance to feed does occur is the horse’s digestive system, which is designed for a high-fibre low-carbohydrate diet.

    “The horse’s hind gut works to break down fibre slowly as he grazes grass or nibbles hay.

    “When something rich or high in sugar is fed, this is absorbed rapidly before it reaches the hind gut and consequently the horse’s system cannot cope as well — a horse may get the equine equivalent of ‘sugar surges’.”

    All cases of severe diarrhoea in adult horses should be taken seriously and your vet consulted.

    The full article on feed intolerances in horses was published in Horse & Hound (22 October, ’09)

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