Gastrointestinal (Gut) Health

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Hindgut (Colonic) Ulcers in Horses and Ponies

Much attention is given to Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome (gastric ulcers) in horses and ponies: we know that they can contribute to a wide variety of signs and symptoms. We also appreciate that good digestive health is so important in our horses for a multitude of reasons. Yet we can be less inclined to think …

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Laminitis-‘Prevention’--But-at-what-cost Optim Equine

Laminitis ‘Prevention’- But at what cost?

We all want to do what’s best for our horses. Marketing experts employed by large brands know this. Clever product marketing targets this. That’s why it is common to find products which offer a seemingly quick and easy solution to help our equine friends with health difficulties. The horse or pony prone to laminitis can …

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optim equine bad breath in horses

Bad Breath in Horses

Bad Breath in Horses The smell of our horse’s breath isn’t something we generally give much thought to. Yet if you’ve ever smelt the breath of a horse or pony with halitosis (bad breath)- then it becomes something hard to ignore. So why do some horses and ponies have bad breath and is it something …

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Why Basics Matter: The Importance of Chewing

When we think of digestive health (and overall health) in our horses- we’re quick to think of the gut. Whilst some may interpret this as the stomach alone, it really encompasses the digestive system at large- including both the small and large intestines. Digestion and the effects of digestive health however, aren’t limited to the …

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The Importance of Protein

Protein- it’s a most crucial component of a horse’s diet, yet is commonly blamed for causing a whole host of problems in horses: Everything from ‘hot behaviour’, to joint problems, swollen legs, liver and kidney issues. Yet are these issues actually caused by protein? And what happens when we don’t feed our horses enough quality …

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Optim Equine Horse Physical Activity

Horses are meant to MOVE. A LOT…

One of the most significant impacts of modern domestication of horses is the profound reduction in daily physical activity. Even horses who are worked regularly and are in peak fitness are likely to do far less exercise than their wild counterparts. Many horses spend the majority of their days in small paddocks, yards and stables. …

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Optim equine poor behaviour in horses

Is it Poor Behaviour or is it Pain?

Poor behaviour in horses is a complex topic to say the least. Whenever a horse is acting up- many things should be taken into account before blaming the horse for being naughty or difficult. Some of the important factors to consider include learned behaviour; imbalances in neurotransmitters (the chemical messengers that influence mood, behaviour and …

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Heat, Humidity and Horses

Hot, humid weather brings with it some important health considerations in relation to our horses. Heat stress is one of the most commonly recognised conditions associated with heat and humidity. Heat and humidity can also play a part in some cases of colic, respiratory challenges, exertional rhabdomyolysis (tying up), poor performance and weight loss as …

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Inflammation & Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatories in Horses

Inflammation & Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatories in Horses

Inflammation. It’s a word commonly associated with poor health outcomes. Yet a certain amount of inflammation is absolutely crucial to health and wellbeing in our horses. Some inflammation is essential to promote normal immune function; repair muscles, bones, tendons and ligaments after exercise; and even facilitate healthy digestive function. Problems start to occur when levels …

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Overweight horses and ponies: there’s more to the equation than just feed…

Overweight horses and ponies can pose a real challenge for owners to manage. Particularly at times of the year where there is an abundance of lush feed. It is well known that higher levels of body fat in horses and ponies is associated with fertility complications, insulin resistance, equine metabolic syndrome and increased risk and …

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Stress in Horses: Why it isn’t always obvious

When we think of the term ‘stress’, we often think of horses that pace the fence line, shy at non-existent monsters (!), call out incessantly when their paddock mate leaves and seem to poo cow pat like manure as soon as we saddle them. Whilst all these behaviours are clear outward signs of stress, it …

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Soy: The Good, Bad and Confusing!

If there’s any horse feed that can cause heated debate about whether or not it is suitable and even valuable for horses- then soy may well take the cake. For the purpose of this article, we will focus on soy bean meal and feeds containing processed soy- not soy oil or soy bean hulls- as …

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Feeding The Injured Horse

Injuries in our horses can be frustrating and upsetting occurrences- and more often than not, they tend to occur when our horses are coming along really well. Ironically, although we may seem to have more time with missing planned races, events and competitions, rehabilitating a horse properly often takes more time and effort than riding …

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Laminitis

Laminitis

Spring is here in the Southern Hemisphere! Which means crisp nights with longer daylight hours and warmer weather. After a long, cold winter-this weather is a welcome relief. But it also makes for ideal growing conditions for grass high in sugars and non-structural carbohydrates (NSC) . This puts susceptible horses at increased risk of laminitis. …

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Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Horses: Rethinking The Use of Corticosteroids

Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Horses: Rethinking The Use of Corticosteroids

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) in horses refers to a group of intestinal diseases that are caused by the infiltration of different types of inflammatory cells into the mucosal and submucosal walls of the intestine, resulting in intestinal dysfunction. Each disease in the IBD group involves a different combination of white cells or involves a different …

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Ulcers in Horses: The importance of understanding how medications work

Ulcers in Horses: The importance of understanding how medications work

There’s much interest in ulcers in horses and for very good reason. Equine gastric ulcer syndrome (EGUS) affects 60-90% of adult horses and 25-50% of foals and weanlings. The condition collectively refers to sores or erosions that develop in portions of the horse’s sensitive stomach lining. EGUS is largely a man-made disease: common feeding practices,  …

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Foals & Colostrum

With foaling season now upon us in the Southern Hemisphere, it’s worth taking a moment to appreciate the importance of good quality colostrum. Colostrum provides antibodies (immunoglobulins), which are concentrated in a mare’s milk during the 10-14 days prior to foaling. These immunoglobulins are essential in helping to provide immunity against common diseases in a …

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Why do horses wind suck and crib bite?

Wind sucking or crib biting in horses is most likely to first occur in association with boredom and lack of forage/grazing. Most people are well aware that a diet high in long-stem fibre plays an essential role from a physiological and digestive standpoint in the horse. However, what is often overlooked is the crucial role constantly …

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Ulcer-Medications-What-Nobody-Tells-You-And-What-You-Need-To-Know-Optim-Equine

Ulcer Medications: What Nobody Tells You and What You Need To Know

The most commonly used equine ulcer medications on the market generally come under names containing Gastro/Ulcer/Guard and contain the active ingredient omeprazole, which belongs to the class of drugs known as Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs)[i] [ii]. These drugs work by reducing (normal, healthy) gastric acid production by blocking the enzymes located in the parietal cells …

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Laminitis How Naturopathy Can Help-Optim-Equine

Laminitis: How Naturopathy Can Help

What is laminitis? Laminitis is a painful, often devastating inflammatory condition affecting the lamellar tissue of the foot.  Each hoof contains 550-600 primary laminae, and each of those consists of 150-200 secondary laminae. The laminae connect the hoof wall to the coffin bone and function to provide shock absorption during locomotion, holding the coffin bone …

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Fibre, Chewing and Gastrointestinal Health

Forages and fibre rich foods which require much chewing, comprise the base starting point for a diet which promotes health in the horse. Chewing results in the production of saliva. Forages and fibrous feeds require more chewing than grains and processed feeds. On a dry matter basis, twice as much saliva is produced when horses …

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Ulcer-Medications-The-Potential-Impact-on-Stallion-Fertility-Optim-Equine

Ulcer Medications: The Potential Impact on Stallion Fertility

With stud season rapidly approaching in the Southern Hemisphere, it is important to evaluate factors that influence stallion fertility. Many people are unaware of the potential effects routinely used medications may have on semen and stallion fertility. One such class of drugs is histamine‐2 receptor antagonists, which includes ranitidine. Ranitidine is one of the two …

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Devil's-Claw-and-Ulcers-Optim-Equine

Devil’s Claw and Ulcers

Many people are familiar with the terrific anti-inflammatory herb Devil’s Claw. This herb is predominantly used in cases of osteoarthritis and to reduce the inflammation and pain associated with injuries to the musculoskeletal system. Research has demonstrated that root extract of the herb inhibits inflammatory cytokine production through multiple pathways. One major concern for horse …

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Nutrient Requirements for Horses: Fortified Feeds and the need for Supplementation-Optim-Equine

Nutrient Requirements for Horses: Fortified Feeds and the need for Supplementation

The vast majority of racehorses, performance horses and breeding stock are fed fortified feeds or balancer rations, which are designed to meet the daily nutrient requirements of horses. These nutrient requirements were established by the National Research Council (NRC) and last updated in 2007. The NRC provides the known nutrient requirements for horses by weight, …

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Lignophagia-Why-Do-Some-Horses-Chew-Wood-Optim-Equine

Lignophagia: Why Do Some Horses Chew Wood?

Lignophagia (or chewing wood) is an all-too common behaviour observed in horses. Whilst it can be both practical and tempting to lather stable boards and fence posts with products to discourage this, it is wise to also consider and address the possible reason(s) for this undesirable chewing in the first place… From a dietary perspective, …

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Foal-Heat-Scours-and-Diarrhoea-Optim-Equine

Foal Heat Scours and Diarrhoea

‘Foaling Heat Scours’ is one of the most common types of scours to affect foals. Yet the name is a bit of a misnomer, and often leads to confusion as to the actual cause of this form of diarrhoea. This yellowish, greenish, watery scour generally occurs in foals around 7-14 days of age, hence often …

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Vitamin-K-The-role-of-Gut-Health-and-the-Effect-on-Bone-Health-and-Insulin-Resistance

Vitamin K: The role of Gut Health and the Effect on Bone Health and Insulin Resistance

Vitamin K is a most important nutrient, which is derived from bacterial synthesis in the horse’s large intestine. For optimal levels of vitamin K to be produced, the horse must have sufficient fibre/roughage in the diet and a healthy microbial population and composition in their GIT. Keep in mind that many of the most frequently …

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What Supplements are best for building Topline?

Topline describes the muscle coverage over the top of the horse’s neck, back and hindquarters. The strength of topline muscles can influence soundness and athletic ability of the horse.Now let’s briefly think of human athletes looking to increase muscle mass, strength and definition. To do this effectively they must work and utilise the correct muscle …

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NSAID-Ulcer-Medication-in-Horses-Optim-Equine

NSAIDs and Ulcer Medications Together? Think Again

Most horse people are aware that the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drugs (phenylbutazone, flunixin, firocoxib, etc) compromise gastrointestinal (GI) health in the horse. This comes about through inhibiting several natural defence mechanisms of the GI tract, which help to protect and maintain the integrity of the lining of the GI tract. Whilst many think …

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