As with many animals, what comes out of your horse is just as important as what goes in and one of the first signs of ill health is diarrhea in horses.
Two types of diarrhea can occur, chronic and acute.
- Acute diarrhea is very severe and should be treated as a medical emergency.
- Diarrhea that lasts longer than two weeks is considered chronic.
Both types of diarrhea can have a variety of causes; fortunately, there’s also a range of treatments.
What causes chronic diarrhea in horses?
Chronic diarrhea is characterized by the length of time it lasts and is potentially accompanied by weight loss, rough coat, dull eyes and general lethargy. Chronic diarrhea may not be non-stop symptoms in the stool but show up frequently over a period of days to weeks. Chronic diarrhea can be caused by parasites, excessive sand, a minor salmonella infection, neoplasia or an inflammatory bowel disease amongst other thing things.
Fortunately, it’s typically manageable with preventative treatments and help from your vet.
Acute diarrhea in horses
Acute diarrhea in horses comes on suddenly and strongly. Your horse will likely spike a fever, have loud gut sounds, have abdominal pain that manifests similarly to colic, and will be very lethargic and weak.
They may also have fluid accumulation in their lower limbs and underneath the abdomen. Dehydration is a severe risk of acute diarrhea and must be treated as soon as possible.
A horse with acute diarrhea can potentially lose as much as forty litres (ten gallons) of water and salt per day, which can lead to serious problems such as electrolyte imbalances, kidney failure and possibly death. Acute diarrhea can be caused by several different types of infections, viruses or toxins.
Treatment for diarrhea in horses
Specific treatment for your horse’s diarrhea is of course dependant on what your horse has. However, treatment will typically start with electrolyte therapy and rehydrating your horse. From there you could end up going to deworming, antibiotics or other medications. Prebiotics and probiotics can also help your horse feel better and be better able to battle their illness.