Gastric Information

Gastric Health

Maintaining gastric health in horses is crucial for their overall well-being, as they are prone to gastric issues such as ulcers. Here are some healthy practices to support equine gastric health:

  1. Frequent, Small Meals:

    • Provide small, frequent meals throughout the day rather than large, infrequent ones. This mimics the horse's natural grazing behavior and helps buffer stomach acids.
  2. High-Quality Forage:

    • Ensure a constant supply of high-quality forage, such as hay or pasture. Forage promotes saliva production, which contains bicarbonate and helps neutralize stomach acid.
  3. Grain Feeding Guidelines:

    • If you feed concentrates or grains, follow recommended guidelines and avoid overfeeding. Excessive grain intake can contribute to gastric issues.
  4. Limit Stress:

    • Minimize stress as much as possible. Horses under stress are more susceptible to gastric issues. Maintain a consistent routine and provide a comfortable environment.
  5. Turnout and Social Interaction:

    • Allow horses plenty of turnout time and social interaction with other horses. This can reduce stress levels and promote natural behaviors.
  6. Free-Choice Access to Fresh Water:

    • Ensure horses have constant access to clean, fresh water. Hydration is important for overall health and can help buffer stomach acid.
  7. Supplement with Alfalfa:

    • Alfalfa hay or cubes have been shown to have buffering effects on stomach acid. However, it's essential to introduce any new feed gradually and monitor your horse's response.
  8. Regular Exercise:

    • Regular physical activity is beneficial for digestive health. Exercise promotes gut motility and can help prevent gastric issues.
  9. Avoid Prolonged Fasting:

    • Avoid long periods without food, as an empty stomach can lead to increased gastric acid exposure to the stomach lining.
  10. Gastric Health Supplements:

    • Consider adding supplements that support gastric health, such as those containing ingredients like aloe vera, licorice, or prebiotics and probiotics. Consult with a veterinarian before introducing supplements.
  11. Monitor Body Condition:

    • Keep a close eye on your horse's body condition. Overweight or underweight horses may be more prone to gastric issues, so adjust the diet accordingly.
  12. Regular Veterinary Check-ups:

    • Schedule regular veterinary check-ups to monitor your horse's overall health and catch any potential issues early.


Probiotic Benefits

Probiotics can be beneficial for horses, especially after antibiotic use. Antibiotics disrupt the natural balance of gut bacteria and can lead to digestive issues and a weakened immune system. Probiotics, which are beneficial microorganisms, can help restore and maintain a healthy balance in the horse's gut. Here are some benefits of probiotics for horses after antibiotic use:

  1. Restoring Gut Microbiota Balance:

    • Antibiotics can indiscriminately kill both harmful and beneficial bacteria in the horse's gut. Probiotics, containing beneficial bacteria like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, help restore the balance of microorganisms in the digestive system.
  2. Preventing Diarrhea and Digestive Upset:

    • Antibiotic use is often associated with diarrhea and digestive upset in horses. Probiotics can help prevent or alleviate these issues by promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria that contribute to a healthy digestive environment.
  3. Enhancing Nutrient Absorption:

    • A balanced gut microbiota is essential for proper nutrient absorption. Probiotics can improve the horse's ability to absorb nutrients from the diet, ensuring they receive the full nutritional benefits from their feed.
  4. Supporting the Immune System:

    • The majority of the horse's immune system resides in the gut. Probiotics play a role in supporting a healthy gut, which, in turn, can positively impact the immune system. This is crucial for horses, especially after a course of antibiotics that may temporarily weaken their immune response.
  5. Reducing the Risk of Secondary Infections:

    • Antibiotic use can create an environment where harmful bacteria have an opportunity to overgrow. Probiotics help create a competitive environment for these harmful bacteria, reducing the risk of secondary infections.
  6. Managing Stress and Performance:

    • Changes in the gut microbiota, including those induced by antibiotics, can contribute to stress in horses. Probiotics may help manage stress levels and support overall performance, particularly in horses involved in strenuous activities or competitions.
  7. Balancing pH Levels:

    • Probiotics contribute to maintaining a balanced pH level in the gut. This is important for proper digestion and can be particularly beneficial after antibiotic treatment, which may affect the acidity of the digestive system.

When using probiotics for horses, it's essential to choose a product specifically designed for equine use and to follow the recommended dosage guidelines.


The Importance of Hydration

Let's explore hydration, electrolytes, and their relation to equine gut health in a way that's easy for everyone, including your grandmother, to understand:

  1. Hydration and the Horse's Inner Oasis:

    • Think of your horse's stomach as a magical oasis in the desert. Just like a desert needs water to thrive, your horse's stomach needs hydration to stay healthy. Water is like the refreshing rain that keeps everything in balance.
  2. The Electrolyte Symphony:

    • Electrolytes are like the tiny musicians playing a symphony inside your horse. They include minerals like sodium, potassium, and chloride. These little musicians help regulate the balance of fluids, keeping the gut and body harmonious.
  3. Sweat, the Energetic Dancer:

    • When your horse exercises or it's a hot day, it dances with a partner called "sweat." This dance is beautiful but can make your horse lose electrolytes. Imagine sweat as the rhythm that keeps the body cool but takes away some of the electrolyte orchestra.
  4. Hydration Detective Work:

    • Horses can't tell us when they're thirsty, so it's like being a hydration detective! Your grandma can pay attention to signs like a shiny coat, bright eyes, and good manure – these are clues that the horse is well-hydrated.
  5. Gut Harmony and Electrolyte Orchestra:

    • Picture the gut as a big concert hall where digestion happens. Electrolytes ensure that the orchestra plays in harmony. If there's not enough water or electrolytes, it's like missing instruments in the concert – things might not go as smoothly.
  6. Salt, the Flavorful Conductor:

    • Salt is like the flavorful conductor in this orchestra. It entices your horse to drink more water and keeps the electrolytes in balance. Grandma can imagine it as adding a pinch of salt to a tasty soup – it makes everything better!
  7. Dehydration, the Silent Intruder:

    • Dehydration is like a sneaky intruder that can quietly enter the oasis. Grandma can watch for signs like sunken eyes, tacky gums, or lethargy – these are red flags that the oasis might need more rain!
  8. Post-Workout Refreshment:

    • After a good workout, your horse deserves a refreshing drink! Just like grandma enjoys a nice cup of tea after gardening, horses need a cool drink to replenish the lost fluids and electrolytes.

Encouraging hydration and maintaining electrolyte balance is like ensuring the concert in your horse's gut plays a beautiful melody. Grandma's keen eye for signs of well-being can help keep the equine oasis thriving!