Equine HindGut Acidosis it’s all about the diet!
Your four-footed equine friend has a limited ability to digest sugars and starches in their stomach and intestines. Too much starch can cause the excess to go into the hindgut where it’s fermented by the organisms within and cause what is called equine hindgut acidosis. These little organisms normally make volatile fatty acids that your thousand pound furry baby uses for energy. When there’s too much starch or sugar in the hindgut, however, those organisms produce lactic acid. Too much lactic acid means a rapid drop in pH which increases acidity which leads to that acidosis. This rapid decline in pH kills off the hindgut’s flora which can lead to laminitis, B vitamin deficiencies, and colic.
Horses need digestible energy for maintaining body functions and for performance. All things being equal, most hays and pastures can provide sufficient digestible energy for maintenance and light activity. Unfortunately, horses can’t eat enough of grasses to provide the sustained high energy we often require of our equine athletes. Without that energy, not much would get done, so we introduce higher based feeds to their diet.
Balanced Nutrition = Healthy Gut
This is where the balancing act starts to come in. You need to get enough food into your horse for their required performing energy levels but not enough starches, and sugars to cause the highly preventable hindgut acidosis. Traditional feeds are based on grain or grain by-products, and they contain sugars and starches, which you’re looking to avoid. There are non-grain feeds that will provide the energy levels your partner requires that are readily available from most well-stocked feed stores. You’re looking for a feed with a balanced load of structural carbs such as oil and fiber and the non-structural carbs such as sugar and starch. Such a feed should provide less than twelve percent of non-structural carbs (sugar and starches.)
Horse management Program
As always, when switching your horse’s diet around, you should do it slowly and carefully. You should never, ever, just dump a load of grain on a grass/hay-only horse as it’s a guaranteed recipe for equine hindgut acidosis and all the health problems it will cause! When changing your horse’s grain, they’ll be suspicious of what the two-foot is messing about with now and only gradually come around to your way of thinking. Switching in a little bit more at a time is an excellent way to go, and remember to give them lots of hay. Horses are grazers, so you want to keep their stomach going and their saliva producing. Lots of small feedings are better than one or two big ones, but with today’s hectic world, do what you can manage.
A healthy horse is a happy horse and as always, Abler is here to help with and affordable treatment for Equine Hindgut acidosis! Abler’s AbSucralfate™ in easy-to-measure, easy-to-feed, flavourless, bright green, film coated granules is recommended treatment for hindgut ulcers.