Horse Constipation

Natural equine gastric remedies to help prevent large colon impactions and constipation in horses.

    equine gastric remedies for colon impactions & constipation in horses

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    1. What is Constipation?
    2. What Causes Constipation?
    3. Diagnosing Constipation
    4. Help for Constipation
    5. More Information on Horse Constipation

    What is Constipation?

    Although most animals suffer with constipation from time to time, careful attention needs to be paid to horses that become constipated.

    If your horse is constipated and has other gastric symptoms, colic a serious and potentially life threatening condition may be the cause. Most horses will be constipated from time to time, and if your horse shows no other symptoms, it is usually harmless.

    What Causes Constipation?

    Constipation is characterized by the back-up of solid waste in the intestines. It can also result from inadequate access to roughage, poor parasite control, gastric problems, stress, intestinal blockage and administration of certain medications.

    If you hear decreased rumbling when you place your ear to your horse’s abdomen and your horse is not passing manure or passing dry manure, you are most likely seeing colic activity. Impaction in horses is also a worry – this occurs with a physical blockage of a portion of the inner part of the digestive tract caused by the presence of abnormally large amounts of material – and is a medical emergency.

    Note: If you are unsure or your horse shows the following signs – consult your vet immediately:

    • Pawing
    • Rolling
    • Not eating (or changing in eating habits)
    • Circling
    • Laying down and rising frequently
    • Reduced manure output, or altered manure consistency (dry and hard or too fluid)
    • Turning the head and looking at the flank or abdomen
    • Kicking at the abdomen, stretching out and standing for long periods
    • Anxiety, trembling and sometimes sweating
    • Absence of, or increased bowel sounds
    • Increased heart and respiratory rate
    • Cool extremities

    Diagnosing Constipation

    Horse constipation is diagnosed when there is decreased gut activity – or when gut activity is non-existent. Consult with your vet if you are unsure as to whether your horse’s bowel movements are normal.

    Typical signs of constipation include:

    • Hardened manure
    • Passing less manure than usual (or dry hard manure)
    • Cessation of bowel movements (no manure produced)
    • Loss of appetite (most animals will not feed until they pass stool)
    • Pawing, rolling or circling
    • Not eating (or changing in eating habits)
    • Anxiety, trembling and sometimes sweating
    • Absence of bowel sounds
    • Increased heart and respiratory rate
    • Cool extremities

    Help for Constipation

    Treatment for constipation usually includes IV administration of an analgesic or mild laxative to move the solid waste through the intestinal tract. Never give your horse human laxatives, or any other medication without consulting with your vet first.

    Natural Remedies

    There are many homeopathic remedies that can help to provide digestive support to horses and promote removal of waste and healthy bowel movements. Chamomilla is a homeopathic ingredient that has been used in both ancient and modern times to calm the digestive system and address bowel health.

    Aconite napellus and Belladonna get to work on a cellular level to promote healthy digestion and calm in the digestive tract, intestines and bowels. To address flatulence and gas related to colic, Colocynth and Nux vom are beneficial and can be used regularly to support healthy stomachs.

    More Information on Horse Constipation

    Tips related to constipation
    • Feeding: Remove your horse’s food when it stops eating. Periods of fasting throughout the day are very important for effective digestion and detoxification. Establish a daily feeding routine and stick to it. Divide daily concentrate rations into two or more smaller feedings rather than one large one to avoid overloading the horse’s digestive tract. Never put feed on the ground, especially in sandy soils.
    • Diet: Ensure your horse is eating a high quality diet comprised primarily of roughage. Avoid feeding excessive grain and energy-dense supplements. (At least half the horse’s energy should be supplied through hay or forage. A better guide is that twice as much energy should be supplied from a roughage source than from concentrates.)
    • Activity: Regular exercise (but not directly after your horse has been fed) will help to keep your horse healthy and can often help promote regular bowel movements.
    • Risk assessment: Set up a regular parasite control program with the help of your equine practitioner. Check hay, bedding, pasture, and environment for potentially toxic substances, such as blister beetles, noxious weeds, and other ingestible foreign matter.
    • Hydration: Provide fresh, clean water at all times. (When the horse is excessively hot, limit it to small sips of luke-warm water until it has recovered.)
    • Emotional care: Reduce stress as horses experiencing changes in environment or workloads are at high risk of intestinal dysfunction. Emotional or physical stress can have an effect on digestion, so keep your horse calm and relaxed.