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Runny Manure/Diarrhea in Old Horse
Last Post 15 Jan 2012 08:25 PM by Jayne-Admin. 15 Replies.
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sauerhorse08User is Offline
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20 Jan 2010 08:09 AM

    Hey everyone, I was wondering if you could help me with something. My mom's horse is a 25+ year old Rocky Mountain Horse and he had gradually begun developing really runny manure. It's soft and watery and squirts and is overall rather disgusting. It's gotten to the point where his back legs and tail are green-brown and have diarrhea all over them and his tail has chunks of manure stuck in it (and he's a palomino, you can imagine how well the green blends with his color). Anyhow, we give him psyllium in his grain (senior grain formula) every other day to prevent sand colic as the pasture he and my horse are on has rather loose soil. Other than possibly stopping the psyllium (which I really don't want to do, but will), is there anything that will have firm up his manure? I've been researching online and there have been some articles saying that old age can reduce the microorganisms in the intestines, causing diarrhea, and introducing probiotics to the horse would help- do any of you have any experience with that? Any advice is appreciated!!

    Equi SearchUser is Offline
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    20 Jan 2010 09:37 AM

     

    I think you should definitely get the vet out to determine the cause. My previous horse started having terrible diarrhea at age 18.  The vet diagnosed "sand" and we put him on psyllium.  He was losing weight and not getting any better but the vet wouldn't waver in his diagnosis and treatment plan.  As winter approached I moved him to another stable where he would have a stall and also had to get another vet.  She went along with the previous vet and we continued the psyllium.  By then it was being  administered by a tube so that he got a huge amount.   Ultimately, Chessie had to be taken to the Virginia Tech Marion Dupont Equine Center where they performed a battery of tests and decided that he had Colitis X and a poor prognosis. Sonogram revealed that he had very little "sand" in his gut.  He ultimately was euthanized when he started having pain and colic.  The diarrhea never abated and the disease ran for almost a year.   This was over 14 years ago and I have since read articles and have decided in my mind that he was actually poisoned, but we will never know on what.  Anyway, I just wanted to impress on you how dangerous this can be. 

    At the time, my vet did say that they had another horse  with diarrhea who was put on probiotics and was doing well.  However, this would not have been appropriate for my horse and I don't know the eventual outcome of the other horse.

     When they have diarrhea, nutrients are not being absorbed and are just flushed out of the body.  Therefore, it is imperative that you not let it go without treatment. 

     I hope I didn't scare you but it was a very horrible experience for me and I had the help of several vets.  I wouldn't want anyone or any horse to go through it.

     

    madel_equestrianUser is Offline
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    20 Jan 2010 09:38 AM

     

    I would put him on a probiotics supplement asap (my favorite is probios- paste or powder).  If you are still seeing no change after a week I would consult with your veterinarian.  It is possible that it could be his senior feed causing the problem.  I know I have a lot of customers who say that their older horses have developed loose stool from it.  He may need some diet changes due to age related body changes.
    FloridaHorsemanUser is Offline
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    20 Jan 2010 11:40 AM

    Ditto on the vet check and starting probiotics ASAP. I'd also get get electrolytes added to the feed right away, too. Diarrhea that severe and prolonged has got to also be dehydrating the horse. Bad or missing teeth and encrusted worms can also cause digestion problems. But don't start slamming the horse with every possible cure you can think of. That kind of pressure on an already established endocrine problem could make things worse. Time to get the vet involved. ~FH

    asharriUser is Offline
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    20 Jan 2010 04:14 PM

    My horse has been having issues with diarrhea on and off but he is only 8 and this seems to be more of a chronic thing for him so I don't know if what I've learned will really help you. But first I want to say that I agree with everyone that you really should have a vet check your horse to make sure he isn't getting too dehydrated and to help pinpoint what might be the cause.

     Okay so my horse has diarrhea on and off. It still has form to it but it is wet and there is usually an accompanying spray of fluid (usually afterwards). When I first moved him (from Ohio to Washington)  it got really bad and the vet that the barn recommended came out and looked him over, determined that he wasn't in immediate danger and had me put him on BioSponge by Platinum Performance as well as ProBios. Well after about 7 days my horse did get better. He had about two weeks of solid manure but slowly it started getting watery again. So, I had the vet out again at which point he put him on some antibiotics and restarted the BioSponge. Again he got better for about two weeks and then started to get bad again. At this point I switched barns (different issue) and with the new barn I tried a new vet. This vet seemed to know immediately what I was describing (the wet but still formed manure with accompanying liquid). He said it was the hay we were feeding. Unfortunately I am not a vet and I can't tell you word for word what he said but the basic idea was that the hay we were feeding did not have a lot of stem and was very fine. This encouraged my horse not to chew enough and without chewing enough the food was not able to be digested quickly enough and passed straight through, something about it brought water in but the water was not able to be absorbed quickly enough, hence the accompanying fluid out. (Sorry, the vet said it much better than that.)  Our solution was to switch hay (right now we are using alfalfa but timothy or anything with more stem should work) and I have noticed a huge improvement. He still has the diarrhea some here and there but the vet told me that it is more of a nuissance thing for me (cleaning dirty butts, etc) than a problem for my horse. (Oh and I do still have him on ProBios as well.)

    As far as your horse goes, because of his age I would definitely have his teeth checked and make sure that he is really able to chew his food properly. Have you changed hay or feed at all recently? I know that for a temporary fix (at least) Bio Sponge by Platinum Performance really does work but if you don't address the cause of the diarrhea then it will most likely come back. Again having a vet out to check things is really important!

     Hope he gets better soon. I know all about the nasty tail and back legs. 

    mochafanUser is Offline
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    20 Jan 2010 08:42 PM

    My 20+ horse has the same exact problem and we took him the vet and there was no medical issue.  But what's funny is he doesn't do that when I put him out on pasture but on hay he starts doing that again.

    hunterjumpergirl92User is Offline
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    21 Jan 2010 03:45 PM

    I've been researching diarrhea as well!  I have an 11 year old that has developed chronic diarrhea and sounds exactly like what you're experiencing.  I have read that diarrhea is more common in older horses and foals.  From what I've found, diarrhea is usually a symptom of something intestinal.  I suggest you take a stool sample to your vet and ask them to check for anything that could be causing it.  If nothing is found, it may be something in your horse's diet.

    Equi SearchUser is Offline
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    25 Jan 2010 07:36 AM

    [quote user="asharri"] Our solution was to switch hay[/quote] 

    asharri,

    I have had the same on-again-off-again issue with my horse and my vet said the same thing: It had to do with the hay he was eating.  I think your vet and my vet were correct in their diagnoses and I think that the texture/type of hay a horse eats is a hugely underestimated cause of stool variances.  I just think that, like people, some horse have more sensitive digestive systems than others.Yes

     

    sauerhorse08User is Offline
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    25 Jan 2010 07:56 AM

    Thanks everybody! These have all been very helpful. I told my mom to call the vet and hopefully she'll do so (I'm at school in Ohio, and the horses are at my home in Michigan, so my direct contact is somewhat limited...). I don't think we can change the hay- we're a bit limited in that way because we've already bought the hay for winter, but I will change that once we buy new hay and try some higher alfalfa content. The only problem with that is that when we have had higher alfalfa content hay, the horses don't eat much of the alfalfa- they actually eat around it for the most part. Have you ever had that problem with your horses?

    hunterjumpergirl92User is Offline
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    25 Jan 2010 06:59 PM

    no way! our horses LOVE alfalfa.  It's like chocolate to them lol.  Alfalfa is very rich and if anything i would say a lot of alfalfa would increase diarrhea but i'm no expert. i just say that because it's so rich.

    61lucky61User is Offline
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    25 Jan 2010 08:21 PM

     Just adding my two cents...my two horses, one 20 and the other 10 years of age both developed diarhea this fall. Since they were only being fed twice per day and my 20year old was also showing sensitivity with cinching up. I decided to treat them holisticaly for ulcers after doing some research of my own. I gave them one hand ful of chamomile flowers, 1/4 cup of Aloe Vera juice/gel and 1 tsp. of ground Marshmallow root, twice per day in their grain. I also gave them an extra feeding of hay too so their stomaches weren't empty for too long. I should add that I was deworming them every 3 months and they live in a corrall year round. Their diarhea ended after a week or so and eventually, after aprox. 1 month, I discontinued the herbs too. Their poops have been normal ever since. I have another problem with them though, the 20 year old eats his own poop every now and then while it's still warm. I bought him 1 year ago and he's done this every since. My 10 year old has been seen doing this too the odd time. It's disgusting to say the least! Yet, they are both usually careful not to poop in the area that they are eating their hay. Now there's an oxy-moron

    asharriUser is Offline
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    25 Jan 2010 08:35 PM

    I know of at least one horse that does get diarrhea from eating alfalfa but I think the cause is different than from other hays. I'm not a vet, though, so who knows? 

    Equi SearchUser is Offline
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    26 Jan 2010 08:09 AM

    [quote user="sauerhorse08"]but I will change that once we buy new hay and try some higher alfalfa content[/quote] 

     

    If your horse's diarrhea is caused by diet (which I'm guessing is probably the case) alfalfa could make the problem worse!

     In your horse's case, you may want to try a stemmier, less rich hay (like asharri was saying) such as timothy.  When you buy the timothy, though, make sure the seed heads are no longer than about 1 inch and that it is not too coarse and too brown.  Old, overly mature timothy can also cause problems because it contains a higher sugar content.

    If you decide to try Orchard Grass, try not to buy any that really dark green; look for some that has a mixture of reds, lighter greens and a little brown (dark green has a higher sugar content).

    Remember:  Not all hay is created equal!!!   

    HH5131User is Offline
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    17 Feb 2010 08:43 AM

    I had an old horse that had this as well.  I found that soaked beet pulp seemed to work nicely with him.  Also, it seemed that whenever I would try a new hay with more alfalfa or whatever, his diarrhea would get better temporarily.  then maybe his sytem got used to it and he'd start with loose manure.  The alfalfa helped with keeping his weight up, but maybe it gave him runny manure after his system was used to it.  He's in a new home now with small children riding him on a trail occasionally.   With their feeding program, he doesn't have runny manure at all.  However, they don't give nice green hay that's high in alfalfa either.  He's definitely lost weight and they say he doesn't always finish his feed or hay, and he doesn't get any soaked beet pulp for lunch either.  He always ate well when he was with me, but I always gave him the best of the best.  So, I guess it's a trade off.   Do you want the horse to have nice weight on them with runny manure, or do you want a thinner horse with normal manure.  This may not be your case, but that's how I see it with my old horse. 

    Equi SearchUser is Offline
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    15 Jan 2012 12:45 PM

     Just wanted to put my three cents in.. After reading all the blogs on diarhea with older horses, i found Lucky respones one that I was going to try. My retired quarter horse came up with the runs, he was retiring on 400 acres and when I went to retrieve him home for the winter months I noticed it was bad. After the beet pulp, senior feed, probiotics, and finally the 5 day worming nothing was working. So I started him on the chamomile, aloe vera and marshmallow root within two days we had firm poop. I talked to our local holestic vet and she said I was on the right track but to add slippery elm bark which i have on order. Thank you for posting I would have never tried this.Wink

    Jayne-AdminUser is Offline
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    15 Jan 2012 08:25 PM

     I'm glad it worked for your horse.  Probiotics helped when my senior horse had the same problem

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