Treating a Horse with Diarrhoea

Your horse’s health is vital and therefore it is imperative to know and understand how to keep it safe and healthy – and that includes treating conditions like diarrhoea.

While diarrhoea in itself isn’t a disease, it can be a symptom of something more serious if it is not checked and monitored carefully. It can also vary from loose stools to faecal matter of a watery consistency.

Whilst there are certain instances where diarrhoea is perfectly normal, for example, if there has been a change in the feed you have given your horse, it is important to keep a check that it doesn’t go on for more than a few days.

If it does, then you should contact your vet immediately.

What are the symptoms of diarrhoea?

There are a vast amount of symptoms and reasons why horses get diarrhoea. Mild cases may go unnoticed for a long period of time if the horse is regularly out at pasture but as the severity of the diarrhoea increases you may start to see staining by the tail area. In cases such as these, a veterinarian should be called in order to diagnose whether this is acute or chronic diarrhoea.
Other than the obvious signs of diarrhoea which relate to the look and consistency of the horse’s faeces, you should also look for these symptoms which indicate acute diarrhoea:

  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Loud sounds from the gut area
  • Loss in appetite
  • Dehydration
  • Abdominal pain
  • Weakness
  • Fluid in the lower limbs

If your horse’s case is chronic, the following symptoms will occur:

  • Weight loss
  • Dull eyes and rough hair coat
  • Lethargy

What are the causes of diarrhoea?

The causes of the illness will largely depend on its severity. If your horse has a chronic case of diarrhoea, the causes could be:

  • Too much ingestion of sand
  • Severe salmonella infection
  • Bowel disease
  • Neoplasia

If, however, your horse has an acute case, the causes could be:

  • Salmonella infection
  • Potomac horse fever
  • Due to any antibiotics the horse may have been given
  • Due to toxicities

Finding the cause of the problem can be the hardest part of having an ill horse and it is vital that you ensure a professional vet has visited and checked your horse. Your vet will perform a thorough check, ensuring it isn’t dehydrated to rule out any straightforward causes.

The treatment your horse will be given will depend largely on the cause and is normally only decided once a physical examination has been completed and blood tests have been taken.
Whilst the problem of diarrhoea is usually simple to cure, it is important that you watch what your horse is eating and check its stools regularly for any possible changes. Ensure your horse gets plenty of TLC, lots of rest and drinks lots of water and your beloved horse will be back on form in no time at all.


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