Last Updated on February 21, 2022 by Allison Price
Horses suffering from diarrhea and loose manure are usually due to one of three things: diet, antibiotic therapy, or disease. Horses can become dehydrated from excessive water loss due to diarrhea. If this happens, horse owners need to immediately investigate any changes in the consistency of their manure and call a veterinarian.
Because they kill many beneficial and innate microorganisms in horses’ hindguts, antibiotics can be a trigger for loose manure.
In a recent study*, researchers concluded that “antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD) is attributed to the disruption of the normal flora of the hindgut, permitting proliferation of pathogenic microbes.” In the study, not all horses were affected similarly.
Catherine Whitehouse, M.S., a nutrition adviser with Kentucky Equine Research (KER), said that providing a probiotic supplement whenever antibiotics are administered has been a proven way to combat AAD. However, ongoing research is hoped to uncover more. To prevent dehydration, veterinarians should be kept informed about any suspected cases of AAD in horses.
Diet is another way to make loose manure. Whitehouse stated that diarrhea can be caused by overfeeding or the ingestion of indigestible material such as dirt, dirt, and fibrous roughage. In adult horses, sudden or inappropriate dietary changes such as changes in digestibility and feed amounts can also lead to problems.
Changes to the diet can have a significant impact on consistency of manure. Microbes in horses’ guts are used to a consistent diet. The microbe population needs to change in order to adapt to changes in diet. Microbes that react too quickly to changes in diet may not be able to handle them properly. This could lead to loose stool and even diarrhea.
Whitehouse warns that not all horses can handle all feedstuffs, particularly richer ones. To avoid loose manure, protein-dense, quickly fermentable fibers such as alfalfa (lucerne) must be slowly added to the diet. Another feedstuff to be slowly added to a diet is beet pulp.
A horse may notice a change in the texture of its manure after a diet change. This is normal and should improve over time. A different diet may be needed if the horse’s manure doesn’t become solidified or becomes normal.
Loose manure can also be caused by dietary factors. Horses can be affected by colitis and both infective and non-infectious causes, including internal parasites or Salmonella. Whitehouse advised that if you suspect the horse is suffering from disease, it is important to have a veterinarian inspect the horse immediately.
Horses suffering from diarrhea may benefit from the hindgut buffer EquiShure. This was created to normalize the pH levels of the colon and cecum.