Does Your Horse Have Enteroliths?

If your horse is experiencing chronic but low intensity colic, your veterinarian may suspect that enteroliths are at the root of the problem.? Enteroliths are mineralized stones that form in a horse?s intestinal tract.? At the centre of these stones is always an ingested object, such as a piece of stone, wood, or metal that does not pass through the horse?s gut.? Enteroliths are common in different geographical regions, depending on the minerals present in soil and feed. ?Cases are particularly high in California.? If left undetected, these stones can cause your horse?s intestinal tract to rupture, causing death.? The only way to diagnose is through x-rays or abdominal surgery.? Horses with enteroliths must have them surgically removed, a procedure that is highly successful unless there are already complications due to the rupturing of the intestinal tract.

If you live in a high risk area, you will want to discuss tools for prevention with your veterinarian.? Since diets high in magnesium and protein may be contributing to the development of enteroliths, lucerne hay should be avoided.? Lucerne hay is also more digestible than other hays, resulting in less fiber passing through the horse?s intestinal system and clearing out any potential objects that might cause an enterolith to develop.? Your horse should also be fed several times per day to encourage intestinal movement, and also receive regular exercise.? Since pH is a factor as well, some horses benefit from having a cup of vinegar added to their daily feed.? Finally, genetics do also play a role, with Arabs being the most common breed for developing these stones.

Since enteroliths have such fatal implications for your horse, if you live in a high risk area, it is important to understand the signs and symptoms of enterolith formation, and to be able to obtain quick treatment for your horse.

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