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#84911 - 10/25/08 09:16 AM how to deal with hard stools causing colic
downcenterline Offline
Grand Prix Member
Registered: 04/19/07
Posts: 174
Loc: Georgetown
I have a coming 3 year old filly who seems to have issues with hard poops. She has had mild colic once and was found to be lightly impacted. She has had 1 more episode of discomfort since then and it was the same= hard stools. She is on turn out 7am-3pm (water outside)drinks a 5 gal bucket in am and about 1/2 bucket in pm when she comes in at night. She is on a kibble formula (am & pm feed)with 1/2 cup flax + nutrequin supplement + added salt in supplement at night. The episodes occured both in the morning before and after breakfast. I have now altered her feed by reducing the flax & supplement to a total 1/8cup combined ration plus her normal feed. I have added 1/8 cup canola oil to try to lube her up. Is this the right course of action?
#86585 - 10/29/08 09:57 AM Re: how to deal with hard stools causing colic [Re: downcenterline]
Dr_Melissa_McKee Offline
Grand Prix Member
Registered: 08/20/08
Posts: 1778
Loc: Campbellville, Ontario
Hard stools occur when the horse does not consume enough water to keep the ingesta hydrated in the digestive tract. The large colon is a very thorough and efficient sponge which reclaims most of the water from the feed material as it passes through. If the horse does not drink enough to meet their basic needs, the body extracts too much water and as a result the manure is very dry and hard. If you can hear your horse poop from the other end of the barn because they are bouncy rock-hard little rabbit-sized balls, she is probably not drinking enough. This is especially problematic in the winter as the cold and reduced activity levels result in lowered water intake and dehydration. as well as lower availablilty of succulent forages such as grass. That is why we see more impaction colic in the cold weather.
Based on your description, this mare is not drinking enough water. The addition of a tablespoon of salt to her ration in the morning and evening will stimulate thirst, and you can use high moisture feeds such as well-soaked beet pulp, carrots, and hydroponic grass strips (great for ulcer horses too) to increase the water content of her diet. You can also actually add up to two cups of oil per day to her feed, but this is quite high in calories. As an alternative, you can use up to two cups of calorie-free mineral oil in her meals. You do not need to reduce the flax or supplement levels, go ahead and feed her however much is recommended to meet her nutritional needs. Another trick to encourage drinking in the winter is to offer warmed water, especially after she comes in from turnout, and to offer a separate pail of water with flavoured electrolytes in it. These strategies are usually enough to get picky drinkers to increase their intake. If you continue to have colic problems, I suggest that you have a thorough physical and dental exam performed to detect additional problems.

Melissa McKee DVM
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