help keep your horse's digestive health in optimal health, make sure
you keep the following factors in mind:
|Diet – Your horse's regular diet should consist of a predominance of roughage, not grain. A horse's body is designed to consume roughage, so when too much protein is introduced via grains or pellets the body may not be able to digest it properly.|
|Diet Changes – If you need to change your horse's diet, try and do it in a gradual manner rather than all at once. Sudden transitions can create digestive problems.|
|Water – A horse should always have access to fresh, clean water. When the horse does not drink enough water the body dehydrates a bit and the digestive system slows down. The waste isn't passed through the intestines properly and colic results.|
|Exercise – A horse is designed to move around regularly. In fact, if you watch them graze in a field you'll notice they are almost always in motion. If a horse is stalled too long his system will slow down, resulting in a potential colic.|
|Intensive Training – Exercise is obviously very beneficial for a horse, but if your horse is suddenly placed on an intensive training program to prepare for a show or race their system will be stressed and the risks of developing colic are higher. Watch any horse under an intensive exercise program carefully.|
|Cooling – After your horse finishes an exercise session, they must be allowed to cool down before eating or drinking. If your horse must have some water right after an exercise session, make sure you limit their consumption to very small amounts of warm water.|
|Parasites - Make sure your horse is on a proper parasite prevention program as intestinal parasites can cause colic. If your horse is already infested with parasites, make sure you gradually de-worm them. If too many parasites are killed at once, it can create a blockage within the intestines.|
|Stress – Stress is as harmful to a horse's overall health as it is to our own. Try to ensure your horse is kept as calm and happy as possible. Pay closer attention for colic when the horse is placed in stressful situations, such as transportation.|
|Pregnancy – Mares are at a higher risk of developing colic, both before and shortly after the foal's birth|
Environment, work, and genetic background can make a horse susceptible to stress and/or injury. When an injury occurs, inflammation and the pain associated with it causes the horse’s nutrient system to become overloaded with cellular debris. This causes his stomach to produce more acid. As more acid is produced, the body manufactures certain chemicals to coat the stomach so as to prevent harm to delicate tissues. These chemicals, in turn, cause inflammation and pain in the injured areas.
Bute (tradename) (chemical names: Phenylbutazone and Butazolidin) acts by blocking the formation of these chemicals. Because these chemicals are needed to protect the stomach lining and the lining of the digestive tract, the result over the long-term can be ulcers in the mouth, stomach and intestines. Over an extended time period, the horse may become uninterested in food and may subsequently lose weight, plus a host of other detrimental effects. In addition, the use of Bute can eventually cause decreased blood flow to the brain, resulting in decreased brain activity, disorientation, and eventually death from shock. Some horses also exhibit other symptoms, such as teeth grinding, diarrhea and swelling under the jaw, chest and belly.
I believe that Bute is not the so-called “miracle drug” it is
believed to be. I personally would use Bute on my horses only in one scenario: to alleviate pain and make his final days
bearable, because there is nothing else that can
be done to save him anymore.
Cold is an extremely effective way to block inflammatory reactions in their tracks and also provides pain relief. The feet and lower legs of horses are very tolerant of cold. It can also be used for wounds, stings, bites, etc. on the body. For the feet and lower legs, stand the horse in cold running water, a bath of ice water or use ice wraps. To avoid the mess if you don’t have ice wraps, place several cotton leg wraps soaked with rubbing alcohol or witch hazel in the freezer and use these after they have super-cooled for an hour or more. (You should change them every 15 to 20 minutes for best effect.) Sore, hot feet can be packed with a poultice that has been chilled in the freezer when you’ve finished icing. Ice/cool as often as possible and as long as possible for best results. Horses’ lower legs have been kept in ice-water baths for one to two days with no ill effects.
A variety of herbs have been
as substitutes for phenylbutazone, aspirin,
and other anti-inflammatory
drugs. For rapid control in acute situations, your
best bet is a
product with an effective dose of Devil’s Claw. For long-term control of pain and low-grade inflammation in chronic
conditions, try products based on Boswellia, curcumin, and ginger. Woofs 'n Hoofs has some products available.