Chronic Diarrhea in Horses
Horses have more than 100 feet of intestinal tract and hence are likely to be at risk for digestive problems, with chronic diarrhea in horses being quite common. Infectious agents such as salmonella and other parasites are some of the causes of chronic diarrhea in horses. However not all cases of chronic diarrhea in horses are serious. In many cases, horses experience diarrhea after a long ride. They lose water and electrolytes in longer rides and hence undergo dehydration. Diarrhea may also occur when a horse is shifted from his usual environment. In such cases, the diarrhea subsides once the horse is given water and electrolyte supplements.
Another one of the causes of chronic diarrhea in horses, especially older ones, is bad teeth. This may sound surprising but it is one of the most common causes of horse diarrhea. When the feed is not ground properly, it can cause upset and inflammation in the digestive system. It is important to maintain good health of the horse’s teeth. Healthy quantities of grain and hay must also be fed to horses. The important thing to note here is that even though these are less serious causes, the diarrhea can quickly become severe. Therefore taking the horse to a veterinarian is essential. Diarrhea in horses can cause certain symptoms. When a horse experiences diarrhea, there is likely to be large amount of soft feces. Bowel movements will also take place more frequently. Normally, horse feces do not have a bad odor, but due to diarrhea they may take on a bad smell. The horse is also likely to lose appetite and will therefore lose weight. Some horses experience edema, which is the accumulation of fluid in the lower limbs and beneath the belly. Dehydration in horses can be detected from skin tenting, sunken eyes, reduce urination and dry mucus membranes.
Any type of diarrhea in horses requires immediate medical attention. The veterinarian may treat diarrhea in various ways. Firstly the vet may obtain samples of the feces, abdominal fluids or blood. A rectal examination may also be done. These tests will help to determine the kind of treatment that is needed.
Treatment for chronic diarrhea in horses usually involves medications to alleviate the symptoms. In case of severe diarrhea, hospitalization may become necessary so that electrolyte and fluid therapy may be administered. Horse owners may also be required to make certain dietary changes which must be introduced gradually. The horse must be encouraged to drink lots of fluids. The temperature of the horse must also be checked regularly.