Gastrointestinal problems in horses

Colic, faecal water, hyperacidity: not uncommon in horses. Facial water and colic, diarrhea and flatulence or even hyperacidity and other digestive disorders: gastrointestinal problems are not uncommon in horses .

Depending on age, race but also way of attitude suffer more than 50 percent of horses regularly suffering from gastrointestinal problems. Foals have to struggle with it just as often as older sport and leisure horses. Unfortunately, horses rarely show that they are not feeling well. Some seem tired and eat less well – others continue to eat normally and appear fit. It is all the more important that you interpret even the smallest signs correctly and know when you should call the vet and when it is a rather minor problem that you can treat yourself.

This is how you recognize it Gastrointestinal problems in your horse It is not easy to identify gastrointestinal problems in your horse. Nevertheless, there are many symptoms that can indicate the unpleasant discomfort. Attention: The symptoms that we present to you in this article are often non-specific and can also indicate other diseases. So they are just indicators that should be checked by a veterinarian.

Possible symptoms: Loss of appetite and weight loss

Increased or decreased drinking

Increased salivation

Teeth grinding

General fatigue

Dull or scaly fur

Conspicuously frequent or prolonged lying down


Faecal water

Colic, which is noticeable through scratching and cramps



Increased heart rate

Burching after eating Stomach ulcers in horses Even mild colic can indicate a stomach ulcer or gastritis. These problems are easy to deal with, especially at the beginning. However, if you notice too late that your horse is not feeling well, it can lead to bleeding in the stomach. So you should always keep a close eye on your horse in order to be able to react to symptoms at an early stage.

Depending on the symptoms and the suspected severity, your vet will do a gastroscopy to do one of those to be able to derive suitable therapy.

Causes of problems in the gastrointestinal tract in horses

How does it actually come to nasty colic, fecal water and Co.? The causes are varied and not always easy to identify. We show the most common influencing factors. In this way, you can observe your horse more closely in certain situations and quickly notice when such factors are causing gastrointestinal problems.

Stress One of the most common causes of stomach problems in horses is stress. A change of stables, transport trips, a previous illness, changing caregivers, arguments with other horses: All of this can affect the sensitive horse stomach. Stress ensures that the gastric mucosa is less supplied with blood and at the same time more gastric acid is formed. The latter then irritates the sensitive gastric mucosa.

Stress can lead to anything from stomach pains to problems with the digestive process and should therefore be dealt with preventively. It is recommended, for example, to feed nerve powder.

Medication As with Medicines are supposed to help us humans – but they can also lead to stomach irritation. In particular, painkillers given, for example, after a sports injury, can lead to stomach irritation.

If your horse is known to have a sensitive stomach, inform the veterinarian. Certain painkillers are particularly gentle on the stomach.

The right feeding for your horse These too Feeding yourself can lead to nasty gastrointestinal distress. Food that sticks to the stomach, such as wheat, can give a horse a stomach ache. But horses don’t like long breaks from eating either.

While many a medical doctor recommends intermittent fasting, the veterinarian points out to horse owners: snacking all day long is expressly desired! In nature, horses eat up to 15 Hours a day. Therefore, they constantly produce stomach acid. If the horse does not get any food for a few hours at a time, the gastric mucosa is attacked. In these cases, the stomach also produces more gastric acid and irritates the gastric mucosa almost on its own. This creates stomach problems for your horse. Another cause that is obvious: Contaminated or spoiled feed can lead to diarrhea and severe colic. Therefore always pay attention to the expiry date and clean and good storage.

Treating gastrointestinal problems in horses You’ll notice that gastrointestinal problems in horses are really not to be trifled with and they occur faster and definitely more often than desired. The diffuse symptoms often make it difficult for horse owners to even notice the condition. Therefore, the advice here is: It is better to contact the vet once too many times before things get worse unnoticed. If the symptoms are mild and you are sure that the stomach problems are only temporary and of a mild nature, herbal remedies such as our Gastro Colon Vital are ideal.

Such helpers can also help preventively a feed change or before a nerve-wracking tournament and, thanks to proven plant and herbal power, ensure a calm stomach. Chamomile, lemon balm, peppermint, anise, Iceland moss and Co. are known for their calming effect on the stomach and support the intestines.

Avoid your horse’s stomach problems It has to be said that the gastrointestinal tract of a horse is a true mimosa. So that there are no unnecessary irritations in the digestive tract, you should pay attention to a few things.

Pre-care is better than aftercare To solve problems in To be able to prevent the gastrointestinal tract, you should keep an eye on your horse at all times and take action even if there are the smallest abnormalities. This includes the entire feed management, training and husbandry. All areas have an impact on the health of the horse’s stomach and intestines.

Proper feeding Regular feeding with a high quality Food is essential for good digestion. We also explain when which feed is suitable in our blog post on the subject of horse muscle building – feed selection and targeted training.

You want to change the food? Then start with a slow diet change. A radical reorientation is not for the habitual stomachs of our horses and can quickly cause stomach problems.

Avoid stress for horses You are also well advised to support your four-legged friend with appropriate means in stressful times. Herbal sedatives can ensure that gastrointestinal problems do not arise in the first place, as your horse remains mentally in the comfort zone. Stomach complaints and intestinal problems are a thing of the past.

Grassing horses correctly Correct grazing is also essential for horses! Make sure that the grasses on the pasture are not cultivated high-performance plants, but lean and easily digestible spring grasses. Especially at the beginning of the warm season, horses’ stomachs have to learn to deal with the fresh green again. It is quite normal for horses to graze for up to four weeks. Even if you treat your horse to the lush greenery and the comfortably warm sun from the bottom of your heart: Peace and quiet gives strength to your stomach.

Grassing should be strictly limited at first (initially approx. 15 Minutes with daily increase) and mainly be limited to the afternoon. In the morning, the grass boasts a particularly large amount of fructan, a sugar molecule. It sounds delicious, but it’s not good for a horse’s stomach. Before going out to pasture, your horse should eat enough hay so that the first hunger for the lush green is satisfied. And: The concentrated feed season is over for your horse in the grazing season.

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