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GI Tract Nutritionist Q&A

Customer: “I have recently purchased a new horse and have begun (for about a week now) supplementing with Horse Guard. The horse was born from a mare of an abandoned (for 20 yrs or so) ‘wild’ small herd on the coast of Northern California. The new owners of the property have been working on ending the breeding and finding homes for some of the offspring. (you can google Point Arena Pintos for more information) She is just a bit over 3 years old and was infected with ticks and worms. November 2015 she was brought to Reno, NV along with a brother and sister for training. I mention this because I can imagine it was quite a stressful time. Shortly after being here, the horses caught a virus, so she was on antibiotics for a bit. Her horse droppings have been quite soft and even a bout of diarrhea lately. I was wondering if it would be beneficial to add Gut Guard to her supplements for a while. If so how much should I supplement and for how long?”
Answer by Ph.D. Equine Nutritionist, Kelsey Johnson Nonella: Thank you for taking such good care of her, and helping to improve her quality of life so much. The antibiotics could have definitely taken a toll on her gut flora. To help her reestablish a healthy gut flora population feeding a bag of Gut Guard would be very beneficial. I would feed one bag of the Gut Guard, which is an 80 day supply.
Customer: “We have a mare we rescued a few years ago. Her age is unknown. The vets have estimated between 8-15. She is having loose stools. The vet did an exam on her stool and described an excessive amount of bacteria. Put her on msm for several weeks helped for a while but it always comes back. It doesn’t seem to matter what her diet is. She is the same on grass pasture in the summer or grass hay during the winter months. She is on a regular worming schedule. There were no worms found in the stool sample. She did also have a power pack this summer. We have tried several different natural digestive aide supplements some help for a while but then the loose stools come again. We have noticed she drinks a lot of water. They do have salt and mineral available. We are giving her some senior feed and beet supplement as when the stools get really bad she does lose weight. She is not being ridden much so should not be in stress from riding. In fact with winter set in she has not been rode at all.”
Answer by Ph.D. Equine Nutritionist, Kelsey Johnson Nonella: Sorry to hear about your mare. I would recommend supplementing her with one of two supplements. If she isn’t at an ideal weight I would recommend Super Weight Gain, which would provide her with a vitamin-mineral, digestive supplement, and hat fat and protein. You could also consider Trifecta, which contains a vitamin-mineral supplement, digestive supplement, and MSM in one dose. You also may consider replacing the beet pulp with extruded soybeans because some horses just can’t handle beet pulp very well.
Customer: “I have a senior horse and just had his yearly done with blood drawn. The only thing found was he is a little anemic. Vet suggested using red cell but I am using the trifecta and don’t want to over do with vits. and minerals etc. My vet checked both for their ingredients and found your product better. But she would like a little more iron. I am checking to see if anyone has just iron that I can supplement to help him out. Any suggestions with this problem. Don’t want to stop using your product. Thank you.”
Answer by Ph.D. Equine Nutritionist, Kelsey Johnson Nonella: Zoetis sells Lixotinic, which is an iron supplement, very little copper, and B vitamins. I think this would be a good pair with Trifecta, as the B vitamins can’t reach toxic levels because they are water-soluble. The copper in the product is extremely low so it will not cause any issues as well. I was talking to a veterinarian last night about your situation, and we were talking about how rare it is for anemia in horses. Typically horses only become anemia if they have lost a lot of blood, or have another underlying issue. She was wondering if there was a possibility of ulcers that could be causing the anemia. There is a test called the Succeed Test that tests for GI. The test needs to be done by a veterinarian. I think that it is possible that he could have ulcers (80% of performance horses have some type of ulcers). Your veterinarian will have recommendations on treating ulcers. Here are my recommendations that I have found work good for my horses in preventing and managing ulcers: 1) Giving him access to hay at all times (so he can have something in his stomach to buffer the acid all the time, because horses continuously secrete acid into their stomach because they are designed to eat small amounts all throughout the day). 2) Offer him some alfalfa at every feeding (the high levels of calcium in alfalfa acts like a Tums for your horse). 3) Add aloe vera juice to any grain or supplement you give him (I add a cup to 2 lb of concentrate and supplement that my horses get). It is really inexpensive (you can get a gallon jug from wal-mart for around $6.50). 4) Reduce the amount of grain that he gets if possible. If he needs more energy feed high fat concentrates. 4) Consider switching from Horse Guard to either Mega-Dose or Trifecta, or feed Gut Guard and Horse Guard. (Mega-Dose and Trifecta have a full dose of Horse Guard but also have higher levels of probiotics and live yeast cultures to help with gut function. Hope this helps. Let me know if I can answer any more questions. If you do the Succeed fecal test I would be very interested in the results if you wouldn’t mind sharing them with me.

4 Responses

Chris Rayfield

Chris Rayfield

October 03, 2023

I have a 4 year old Spotted Saddle Horse that is nearly a perfect horse (in my eyes, ha ha), except for his pooping habits. He is a normally never gets excited, always calm, performs wonderful, trail rides, shows intermittently, has a life of luxury…..etc.
Seemingly perfect life for a horse if you ask me.
He is primarily on pasture all the time, mildly ridden about twice a week, dewormed every 8 weeks.
I would consider him a hard keeper – I never can get him to look full or plump, even with fairly intense feeding with Purina products such as Strategy or Fuel. He just stays on the edge of “thin” all the time.
His backend, tail, rear legs are always messy, but I see him poop normal piles of poop. However, when we trailride or show, he poops SO MUCH almost the whole time we are riding. Starts out a normal pile, then continues small amounts until by the end of the ride it is mush or liquid. He does not show obvious signs of stress – no hyper activity, no bad behavior, he’s not a hyper horse at all, seems SO CALM all the time.
BUT, this pooping problem is concerning (and a little embarrassing).
Is it stress I’m not seeing that’s going on? Is it a gut problem? I would appreciate any suggestions.
Right now he is just on full time pasture, with all the knee high grass he can eat, but it doesn’t really seem to matter what he eats, he stays on the thin side and a messy butt & tail.
Looking forward to your thoughts.
Thank you for your time.
Horse Guard replied:

Thank you for the question. I would recommend adding Gut Guard to his diet. The prebiotics, probiotics, and live yeast cultures should help stabilize the gut flora in his hind gut as well as help with the water fecal syndrome it sounds like he might be experiencing.

I hope this helps. Let me know if I can answer any more questions.

Emily Gunter

Emily Gunter

August 01, 2022

Can I use both gut guard and trifecta for my PSSM horse with some gut/ulcer issues
Horse Guard replied:
Yes! Trifecta has a gut supplement included, however if you are looking for a stronger approach you can safely feed Gut Guard in addition to Trifecta to your PSSM horse. Let us know if you have any other questions!

 Kelsey Johnson Nonella, Ph.D., PAS

Kelsey Johnson Nonella, Ph.D., PAS

March 17, 2022

Great question! A healthy micro-flora population in the gut has a tremendous positive impact on the overall health of a horse, especially which is especially important during times of stressors such as travel. I recommend adding Gut Guard to your mare’s feeding regiment if she maintains weight well, it will provide her with:
• Probiotics– actual inoculation of live bacteria that help stabilize the gut and resist disease-causing microbes that try to invade the gut and cause illness.
• Prebiotics – These are nutrients to support the probiotics. They help strengthen the good bugs (probiotics) so that they can form stronger populations in the digestive system.
• Live Yeast Cells – Stabilize ceacum pH which further help stabilize the gut. This is extremely important for horses on high starch diets. Research shows that when horses are fed live yeast there is an increase in digestibility resulting in a healthier horse with more resistance to disease.

If your mare is on the harder keeper side instead of Gut Guard you should start Super Weight Gain, note that hauling long distances can be hard on their bodies and it is not uncommon to see them drop weight, we have many athletes that switch to Super Weight Gain during competition season to keep their horses GI’s healthy and weight on, it will provide:
• A complete vitamin-mineral supplement to meet any deficiencies
• The gut supplement in Gut Guard, prebiotics, probiotics, and live yeast cultures to help stabilize the gut flora to help them get more out of the feed they are consuming
• The cool-energy base of full-fat extruded soybeans that are high in protein and fat and low in NSC to help keep weight on safely

If you don’t already, feeding Alfalfa which is high in Calcium can be beneficial for hauling because it buffers the stomach, nature’s tums for horses.

Let us know if you have any questions!


Kelsey Johnson Nonella, Ph.D., PAS

Kathleen Caligiuri

Kathleen Caligiuri

March 10, 2022

I will be shipping a 14 year old mare across the country and was wondering if I should be giving her a preventative gut supplement prior to shipping?

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