Loose Stools in Old Age

Q. My 27-year-old gelding is generally healthy. However, this year he developed loose stools. It's not cow pies but not well-formed manure either, and the manure includes some liquid.

He's on a regular deworming program. I have treated for sand (colic) and have him on daily probiotics, which seem to have helped but not eliminated the problem. He had his teeth floated in May, and his appetite is excellent. Do you have any suggestions?

Susan, Laurel, Md.

A. Periodic loose stool in aged horses is not uncommon, and may be a consequence of the aging changes that occur in the gut. If he is maintaining his weight, you might have your veterinarian do some basic blood work to be sure nothing else is amiss. Often the cause of loose stool in the geriatric horse can't be identified or resolved. You can try some trial-and-error work seeing if any diet changes in the fiber source helps.

About the Author

Dianne McFarlane, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM

Dianne McFarlane, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM, is an associate professor in physiological sciences at Oklahoma State University. Her research focuses on using a comparative animal approach to understanding the biological changes that accompany aging and the age-related factors that promote risk of neurodegenerative disease.

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