Helping the Gassy Horse

Q. Are there any products available to give on a daily basis to horses that develop gas easily, or do you have any other suggestions on how to address the problem?

Donna Alley, Weatherford, Texas

A. What's happening (in a gassy horse) is whatever feed is getting to the colon (is producing) a substantial amount of gas. Generally when gas is produced it is because feed is being digested rapidly and the bacterial population in the gut has shifted. Gas is a byproduct of that, so it's really all about the "bugs" (inside the gut).

I'm sure, if I were to search the web, I'd find a lot of products and supplements to help with gas. However, I’d want to start by looking at the (gassy horse's) overall feeding program.

To minimize gas, you want to start with a high-quality hay as forage and cut down on the (the horse's access to) soluble carbohydrate. One source of soluble carbohydrate, for instance, is cracked corn. So go for the higher fat rations, where the energy is coming from the fat rather than carbohydrate. Also be careful with rich spring grass, which is also readily digestible and can lead to gas.

About the Author

Anthony Blikslager, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVS

Anthony Blikslager, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVS, is a professor of equine surgery and gastroenterology at North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. His research interest is gastrointestinal physiology in horses, studying the mechanisms of injury and repair in the gut with the clinical outlook of enhancing recovery of horses with colic.

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