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Discussion on Chronic loose bowels - causes, remedies?

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Susan - Lancaster County PA
New Member
Username: shellys

Post Number: 1
Registered: 1-2009
Posted on Sunday, Jan 11, 2009 - 5:13 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post


Hello everyone! I am brand new to this list and have been reading like crazy, but there is so much information, I will never be able to cover it all. I am located in Lancaster County, PA. I have a 4 1/2 yo palomino QH mare. Purchased one year ago as a bit of a rescue as the woman (and I use the term loosely) who was acting as the agent for the seller was going to ship her to the local auction to recoup her out of pocket 'training' expenses. Long story short, she's green, rather mare-ish, and has this annoying loose manure which comes and goes without apparent reason, but is present 80% of the time to one degree or another. I've had chiropractic and acupuncture treatment, although that was aimed at sore back issues. I've tried to track if it is associated with her heat cycles and thought at first it was, but now it does not seem exclusive to that issue. I have had the vet out to investigate recently and she drew blood and ran tests (but I need to get a copy of what all she ran) which came back normal. No whacky enzymes stuff, no disease, etc. Final recommendation was to put her on a clay supplement to try to 'cement' her manure and absorb moisture, but the stuff is $40. per container and it doesn't last even one month so that's out of the question. I want to know the cause and other treatment options. She had also been ultra-sounded early on in relation to her back, and her reproductive system looked perfectly normal during that procedure. We were ruling out some kind of tumor or cyst that could be affecting her back. The back is fine now BTW, probably more related to over-training and mishandling. But she has what I consider a worsening problem with liquid manure running down her leg, over her hock and all the way down to her fetlock. I wash her off every single day to keep her skin from becoming irritated and wash her tail several times a week even if it is only rinsed in water. As you can imagine, this is really ugly on a palomino, but more importantly, I am very concerned that this has continued and worsened over the past year. Her feed has not changed, her hay has not changed, her bedding and pasture have not changed. She did have this when I first purchased her, but to a lesser degree. She is in light to moderate work. I am adding shredded beet pulp to her ration beginning today. Only 1 cup 1 X day to start and then will increase. But how much is enough or too much? She only gets about 2 quarts of concentrate per day divided into two feedings, but I would have to weigh it to be sure how much it is. She is boarded and I have left that up to the barn owner who adjusts it based on body condition and weather. She is in good condition, not overly fat or thin. She did have a problem with a heavy stongyles load even though it did not show in her condition, but she was treated with a Power Pack about 5 weeks ago, retested and is clean. I had hoped it was related to the worm load but now that diagnosis does not seem to hold up either.

Sorry for the length of this post but I'm hoping someone will be able to shed some light on this perplexing problem. Any and all questions and advise will be most appreciated!

Thanks so much!
Susan
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PattyB
Member
Username: pattyb

Post Number: 89
Registered: 11-2008
Posted on Sunday, Jan 11, 2009 - 6:48 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Susan....and welcome from another relative newcomer.

Have you ever treated her for sand? My older mare had similar problems when she was over 30 and it helped quite a bit to give her Sand Clear for seven days monthly, sometimes at double dose. Sand or grit in their gut causes irritation but it doesn't readily pass with the manure, just kind of sits there and builds up over time. Maybe check with your vet to see if it would be a good idea to try that with her. The product should be stocked in any feed/supply store.

Good luck and keep us posted.
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Diane E.
Member
Username: scooter

Post Number: 3535
Registered: 9-2000
Posted on Sunday, Jan 11, 2009 - 6:49 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Susan what is your horses complete diet...include everything, pasture also that might help us.

If you haven't read this article it might help you, plus there are many threads associated with it. Seems to be a fairly common problem.

http://www.horseadvice.com/horse/messages/4/5275.html
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Sara Wolff
Member
Username: mrose

Post Number: 4417
Registered: 1-2000
Posted on Sunday, Jan 11, 2009 - 9:03 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Welcome, Susan. Diane beat me to asking what the mare's eating. I've had horses that can't eat rich feed, especially alfalfa, without getting chronic "runs." Also, if a horse is nervous and anxious it will often get "the runs." Glad you took this mare in; I'm sure you'll find out what her problem is with a little "digging."
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: dro

Post Number: 22095
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Monday, Jan 12, 2009 - 7:54 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Welcome Susan,
If parasitism was the cause it may take longer than 5 weeks for the bowel to completely recover. The clay (varieties of smectite) treatment does not actually cement the stools together but is thought to work by absorbing bacterial toxins and possibly have some direct anti-inflammatory action on the bowel wall. These toxins cause the bowel to secrete more fluid, loosening the stool. Let me refer you to the ONE article you do need to read and digest to get you started on a track that may lead to a diarrhea free horse, Diseases of Horses » Colic, Diarrhea, GI Tract » Diarrhea in Horses » Diarrhea an Overview.
DrO
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Susan - Lancaster County PA
New Member
Username: shellys

Post Number: 2
Registered: 1-2009
Posted on Wednesday, Jan 14, 2009 - 8:58 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

OK, I'm back. Had some navigation issues! I actually wrote all of this out and wanted to edit it so I hit 'cancel post' and lost everything. I'm too tired now to recreate the entire message so here is the quick and dirty. Did another fecal and it was positive so am retreating with Quest this time. Will run another fecal in 10 to 14 days and see where we are. Meanwhile I'm adding some things to her diet to try to treat the symptoms. Beet pulp, yogurt, diatomaceous earth.

Her feed is timothy hay three times a day and a 12% textured feed from a local feed mill. Pasture turnout daily. Overgrazed pastures with very short to nonexistent grass.

More tests are also being run for giardia and another one I can't pronounce to rule those out (hopefully).

Gotta run, please keep those suggestions coming!

Thanks
Susan
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Sara Wolff
Member
Username: mrose

Post Number: 4437
Registered: 1-2000
Posted on Wednesday, Jan 14, 2009 - 9:21 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I know you said she was ultra-sounded and her reproductive system looked fine, but has she had any blood work done to test hormonal levels. Sometmes if a mare is having hormonal imbalance problems she will have chronic diarrhea.
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elk
Member
Username: ekaufman

Post Number: 794
Registered: 3-2007
Posted on Wednesday, Jan 14, 2009 - 9:32 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Have you walked the pasture to look for weeds? Sometimes when pastures are over-grazed, horses will eat things that they normally would ignore (also trees, fences, etc.).

I would start removing things from her diet to try to rule things out. If it were me, I might start with the 12% feed, and then try moving her to drylot or a short period of confinement to see if she's eating something weird and disruptive in the pasture. I'd suspect the timothy hay last, but I suppose I'd find a way to isolate that option as well. I'd try to resist the urge to give her more stuff to ingest, since it may cause new GI trouble on top of the current one.

If the fecal shows parasites, that's an obvious possible cause. Sounds like you're on top of that one.
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PattyB
Member
Username: pattyb

Post Number: 90
Registered: 11-2008
Posted on Wednesday, Jan 14, 2009 - 9:41 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Susan....and thanks for the update.

I'm really glad to see you are testing for giardia. My older mare had that and it was found while looking for the source of her cow piles. But I do have one question: Giardia is quite tricky to find as the "swimmers" they look for die off very quickly. To find it in my horse, I grabbed a "sample" from the barn and had it at the local vet's within 20 minutes. If the manure isn't tested quickly, there can be no swimmers left to find. That all leads me to my question----> how quickly can they test your sample so they can be sure to see it if that is what you're dealing with? On the truck and tested later that day has a very good chance of giving a false negative. Just food for thought..................
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Susan - Lancaster County PA
New Member
Username: shellys

Post Number: 3
Registered: 1-2009
Posted on Thursday, Jan 15, 2009 - 8:18 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Wow, all very good thoughts. I have requested a copy of her tests to see what was actually tested for so I will look at the hormone level suggestion.

Pasture is extremely short and with a dozen+ horses rotating through it, actually 3 different pastures, there isn't time for much of anything to grow. I have noticed that when I hand graze her outside of the pasture, she has a preference for narrow leafed plantain when it's late fall and the grass isn't really growing any longer. I don't see any other weeds like chicory or something that is unusual. Anyone have a list of toxic weeds for the eastern seaboard?

As to the giardia, I grabbed fresh and ran it to the vet immediately, but they send it out and if it is as 'fragile' as you say, then it will be coming back negative. I will mention this to my vet and see what she says.

I understand what is being said about not adding things to the diet, but withdraw one by one to eliminate possibilities. I feel that we are going in the right direction with the worm issue and I am trying to give her supportive treatment to sooth the bowel and eliminate the excess water. Am I barking up the wrong tree?

I'll keep everyone posted. Apparently I can't deworm her until after the extreme cold snap has moderated here. Vet says that Quest can cause colic and not to administer during extreme weather or changes.

Thanks!,
Susan
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Susan - Lancaster County PA
New Member
Username: shellys

Post Number: 4
Registered: 1-2009
Posted on Thursday, Jan 15, 2009 - 8:50 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi again,

I'm trying to get some pictures of my problem posted but am having difficulty completing the attachment process. Apparently my file is too large so I have to figure out how to make it smaller. I'm trying again later! "~) Susan
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: dro

Post Number: 22117
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Thursday, Jan 15, 2009 - 9:09 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I have to question one of your treatments: diatomaceous earth is not indicated that I know of. If the idea is for parasites, current research shows it is not effective. Also I am not aware of any mare hormonal disorders that present as chronic diarrhea.

As to pathogenesis of the different forms of diarrhea and how treatment might work review the "Overview of Diarrhea" article.
DrO
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PattyB
Member
Username: pattyb

Post Number: 92
Registered: 11-2008
Posted on Thursday, Jan 15, 2009 - 9:48 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Susan....one last thought as I run out the door: My horse vet's clinic is an hour away so I took the sample to my small animal vet (called first) just 20 minutes away. Everything was negative for worms but she did she the giardia swimmers. Once I treated her for that, she improved right away.

Good luck, will be watching for updates.
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Jeanne Smith
Member
Username: jwsmith

Post Number: 19
Registered: 11-2002
Posted on Monday, Sep 6, 2010 - 9:41 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Folks,
Been reading these posts. I have a 4 year old mini with chronic diarrhea - not bad but needs to be taken care of. This mare is new to me, a rescue story as well. I have had her for a few months now and she has gone from thin to "big belly" (resembles a mama belly). Not huge, but there is enough difference that now is the time to get her vetted. She has gut sounds a little louder than what I am used to hearing. I have had fecal tests done on her. She is on a pro-biotic, Sel-E and Hunter from Blue Seal, enough to get the supplements in her. She gets a small amount of hay twice a day and is turned out on an eaten down pasture. She was vetted at the time of purchase and the basics were ok.
I am getting a pregnancy check done and then work on the diarrhea issue. Not knowing her history prior to the person I bought her from (who rescued her first), I am concerned about pregnancy and the giardia issue that I read about. If she had poor turn out conditions then this could be a possibility. Can you treat for giardia as a preventive even if you can't find a positive reading? I came across an "all natural" product that will help to remove it but I don't want to start giving her anything without more information.
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CherylA
Member
Username: canderso

Post Number: 489
Registered: 3-2000
Posted on Monday, Sep 6, 2010 - 9:47 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Jeanne, has the mare been dewormed, particularly for tapeworms?
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Jeanne Smith
Member
Username: jwsmith

Post Number: 20
Registered: 11-2002
Posted on Monday, Sep 6, 2010 - 6:57 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Cheryl,
Yes, three times. When I purchased her in late March/April and twice since then, however, I didn't use the tape worm dewormer. I will have to consider that. I had the fecal done on her a couple of weeks ago and she was clean, however, I never asked if this includes tape worms.
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Vicki Z
Member
Username: vickiann

Post Number: 2235
Registered: 3-2005
Posted on Monday, Sep 6, 2010 - 7:26 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Jeanne,

I had this problem for years with my paint horse.

He always had a runny butt.

I tried every single remedy that has ever been suggested and the problem would wax and wane at best.

Things that did help: 1) Using Quest wormer as the only wormer administered for one year(resistant strongyls?) 2) Switching to Triple Crown Lite as the feed (different ingredients than many more standard feeds, 3) Finding a good farrier who finally put the right balance and angles to his feet, hence no more chronic unsoundness and pain.

I literally spent years cleaning off the back end of this horse and all that while he had foot problems.

Now in his advanced golden years he has neither problem.
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Jeanne Smith
Member
Username: jwsmith

Post Number: 21
Registered: 11-2002
Posted on Tuesday, Sep 7, 2010 - 5:37 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Thanks Vicki!
What I like about this website is that I get people to share their experiences. I am amazed at the extent of this problem, since I have never experienced it before. I am thinking that my mini had "not so good" care during last winter and maybe has something in the gut (a bug of sorts) to be causing the loose stool. I, like many, don't want to spend lots of time or dollars figuring it out! That's why I like to read up on what people are doing. I will, however, do my best to not to try to second guess this and let my vet help me first.

I have never heard of "giardia" as mentioned in the posts above. Interesting! I am picturing my mini being in a situation that may have not been too sanitary (concerning her water). Anyway, thanks for your suggestions and I will see what the vet has to say!
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Vicki Z
Member
Username: vickiann

Post Number: 2238
Registered: 3-2005
Posted on Tuesday, Sep 7, 2010 - 8:41 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Good luck, Jeanne.

I've learned how hard it can be to fix things sometimes despite best efforts.

Yet I feel fortunate to have finally, after nearly 15 years of trying, have had the great luck to have had my boy's problems cease after all of these years.

I can't tell you how much time I've spent cleaning up his hind end and back legs or what a problem his general unsoundness has been with regard to his feet.

Now that he feels better his whole attitude is improved. He is not nearly as aggressive toward the other horses or cranky as he used to be when he wan't feeling very well.
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