Need to boost immune system - The Horse Forum

 
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post #1 of 9 Old 07-28-2010, 04:53 PM Thread Starter
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Red face Need to boost immune system

My OTTB seems to be incredibly susceptible to rainrot and infection that can quickly turn to cellulitis. We think his immune system must not be very strong. (He was malnurished and neglected before I bought him 2 years ago.) I am researching different supplements that might help to boost his immune system. I also put in a call to my vet to see what he recommends.

I am wondering if there are others out there that have tried a supplement to help their horse's immune system? I should note that my horse gets regular vaccinations and de-worming, as well as he is also on a supplement for joint health and circulation.
Thanks to all who respond!
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post #2 of 9 Old 07-28-2010, 05:20 PM
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How old is the horse? Some horses begin producing less Vitamin C as they get older and that can compromise their immune system. That may be something to discuss with your vet.

Does he have any metabolic issues or other health problems?
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post #3 of 9 Old 07-28-2010, 05:24 PM Thread Starter
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My TB is 12 years old. I've had him for 2 years. Before that he was very neglected, starved and covered in rain rot. We have since brought him back to a solid weight. He does have ringbone in his back right leg and we have to work to keep the swelling down. He seems to have fluid that wants to pool in his ankle. This last bout of cellulitis manifested itself right in his bad ankle/leg.

Regular exercise seems to help his ankle a lot, along with cold weather.

Does this help?
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post #4 of 9 Old 07-28-2010, 08:44 PM
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I don't know of any studies that show exercise specifically helping the immune system in horses... but fit animals (and humans) are generally significantly healthier than unfit animals.

I would say talk to your vet or a good nutritionist (not a feed company rep or feed store rep unless they are unbiased) about supplementing some Vitamin C. Also, take a good look at the quality of hay and hard feed he is getting. Lack of or imbalance of minerals/vitamins can definitely cause immune problems.
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post #5 of 9 Old 07-29-2010, 12:51 AM
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What is his diet? Type of feed, and amount fed by weight? Forage as well. That is always the first place to look because an unbalanced diet is going to affect immune function.

Cindy D.
Licensed Veterinary Technician
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post #6 of 9 Old 07-29-2010, 01:13 AM
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Agreed, we need to know what he's eating, how much, and how often, including hay and pasture time. Is he stalled for any part of the day?

Adding Apple Cider Vinegar to my horses' diet has helped reduce the frequency and severity of rain rot. My area is VERY high in rain rot issues due to our moisture levels and warm winters. I feed 1/2-a cup a day. It also seems to help the flies a bit, and encourages more water consumption.

Adding copper and zinc to your horse's diet can help with illness issues. Both horsetech.com and Uckele will custom blend a supplement for you. Uckele's prices are better, but horsetech.com has a faster turn-around. Call or email both with your horse's exact diet, living conditions, and concerns and see what they recommend.

I feed my horses free choice bermuda/mixed grass hay and alfalfa pellets. I don't use commercial feeds as they are mostly fillers and grain byproducts. The nutrition is rarely "great" and most are high in sugar/starch, which is not what horse's are meant to digest. I add to my alfalfa pellets a custom blend from Uckele and 1-2 oz of milled flax, along with the apple cider vinegar (cheap wal-mart store brand).

The vitamin mix is based on my situation. Our hay is low in selenium and copper, we use well water that is high in iron, and I wanted extra "hoof goodies". The amino acids (last three on the list) are high because I don't have much grazing to speek of. This mix costs me about $0.43 a day to feed per-horse. It's very affordable and I can more closely control my horses' diet/weight needs without worrying about their nutritional needs. The values below are "per-serving" and plenty for once a day feeding.

Vitamin A 15,000 IU
Vitamin E 1,000 IU
Vitamin C 1,000 mg
Thiamine, B1 100 mg
Riboflavin, B2 50 mg
Vitamin B12 300 mcg
Niacin, B3 250 mg
Pantothenic Acid, B5 75 mg
Folic Acid, B9 15 mg
Biotin 10 mg
Iodine (I) 1.5 mg
Copper (Cu) 200 mg
Zinc (Zn) 400 mg
Selenium (Se) 1.5 mg
Cobalt (Co) 2 mg
Magnesium (Mg) 2 g
DL-Methionine 2.5 g
L-Lysine 4 g
L-Threonine 1 g
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post #7 of 9 Old 07-29-2010, 06:21 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks to all for your responses. I am moving Teddy to another stable tomorrow afternoon. I am very excited about it! I am not entirely clear on the diet that he has been on, and I now realize that I must pay A LOT more attention to this in order to get him on a healthy track. At the new barn he will be fed 3x per day. He will receive Purina Strategy 3x a day (I forgot to ask how much.) along with a supplement a couple days per week of Purina Amplify ( a high fat, high protein, low starch feed). He also will get 1 ounce of Grand Flex per day. He will be fed grass hay - approx. 18-20lbs per day. Turn out consists of 2 hours per day in a dry lot 5x per week. This is to start. We may end up putting him in pasture some of the time. It just depends on how he does. Teddy doesn't like being out of his stall for long. If he feels he is "done" with being outside he starts to pace and whinny and really works himself up.
I am out with Teddy every evening and usually let him graze about 30-45 min after he is cooled out. This will continue.

I normally ride Teddy (when it's not ridiculously hot)5x per week for approximately an hour.

I've reviewed the new feed Teddy will be on and it all looks good and balanced, but I guess I won't really know for a couple of weeks. He is currently on antibiotics as he recovers from cellulitis and that has caused him to have diarrhea. He is drinking well water right now and I'm told that he drinks a good amount during the day and night.

Luvs2ride1979 - what does free choice mean? Also, thanks for the apple cider vinegar tip. That is really interesting. I'm told that the horses at this new barn never have any trouble with rain rot. I hope that will be the case with Teddy too.
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post #8 of 9 Old 07-29-2010, 11:20 PM
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I have heard that in severe cases, Immunoregulin injections might help.

Ester-C is a good supplement, and I think SmartPak has it. Vit C is critical to a healthy immune system.

If you are willing to try the herbal root, Purple Coneflower (Echinacea) root is an excellent immune booster.

Also look at his zinc level. Lack of Zinc can cause a drop in immune response as well.

Spent a whole hour today laying in a pasture, waiting for a sparkling vampire to show up. Alas, I woke up and looked over, only to find a mound of horse crap. Sigh.
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post #9 of 9 Old 07-29-2010, 11:25 PM
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Free choice means as much hay as the horse wants to eat throughout the day. That is really best for any "hard keeper," especially one that is stalled for a good portion of the day. I would have his hay feed 3x a day, as much as he will eat. If he's finished it all before they put more in, then ask them to increase it.

For turnout, get him in turnout with some "friends." Start with just one horse that is "laid back" in attitude and gets along well with others. Having some hay out there is a good idea, or turned out in a pasture with grass.

Also, amplify should be fed daily to get the full benefits. Strategy is also a high starch feed. It may be counterproductive to weight gain for your boy. If you don't see improvement in 30-days, you might consider changing to a vitamin supplement or ration balancer feed with alfalfa or timothy hay pellets and/or beet pulp.
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