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Chronic diarrhea in 27 year old horse

9266 Views 9 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  Acadianartist
My Appaloosa gelding has been getting full on projectile diarrhea when eating hay. The horses are on pasture board but when the footing in the field is wet, they get hay and are confined to a dry lot. About 24 hours after getting hay, he gets diarrhea. The diarrhea resolves after returning to grass or with biosponge treatment. This has been going on and off for maybe 2 months.

He's been examined by a vet. Physical exam is normal. Blood work is normal. He doesn't seem to have trouble chewing and his teeth are fine. He has all of them. None are broken or loose and he is up to date on floats. The vet was unable to feel any points or other issues. He has no fever, and no loss of appetite. His attitude is bright. The other 2 horses in his field are fine. He was just dewormed and his fecal exam was negative. He's in good weight. He is being treated for Cushing's with a daily half dose of prascend and he's on probiotics.

The hay is a high quality grass hay, the same kind of hay he's always had, and none of the 18 other horses on the property seem to be having an issue with it.

There has been no change to his turnout situation or his workload (been retired for 2 years). He hasn't left the property. Other than the grass to hay switch, his diet remains the same.

I read that chronic diarrhea can be a common issue for older horses. Does anyone else have experience with this? What else can I do to combat this?
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I have the same problem with my 18 year old gelding. Invariably, when he's on full hay, he gets diarrhea. He eats hay without an issue in late summer, when I start supplementing the grass. But the minute I take him off pasture and he is only eating hay, it starts. The vet recommended finer hay (second cut) so I bought a bunch last year from a completely different field. No change whatsoever. He doesn't like the coarser hay, and prefers the finer hay, but his stool still gets runny. I put him on pre- and probiotics, and digestive enzymes, and it is finally a little better after a few weeks, but not completely resolved. The only thing I can figure is that the grass must have digestive enzymes that help his digestive system work well.

I do give him timothy hay cubes twice a day, and my equine nutritionist has suggested I could just feed him hay cubes, but that would take away his foraging which keeps him busy all day, and I hate to do that.

I'd be intersted to hear if you find a solution, because we struggle with this for weeks on end each fall. It does seem to resolve itself eventually, but not soon enough.

Oh, I also feed psyllium fiber when it gets bad - sometimes that helps. But you're not supposed to feed it all the time, just for a while, then stop.
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