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Review
. 1990 Aug;6(2):339-54.
doi: 10.1016/s0749-0739(17)30545-x.

Clinical Nutrition of Adult Horses

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Review

Clinical Nutrition of Adult Horses

S L Ralston. Vet Clin North Am Equine Pract. .

Abstract

Horses suffering from trauma, sepsis, and severe burns need 12% to 16% of protein (dry matter basis) in their diet. Since reduced appetite may be a problem, relatively energy dense (greater than 2 Mcal DE/kg) feeds should be offered. In hepatic failure, maintenance protein requirements (8% on a dry matter basis for adult horses) should be met with feeds that are high in short branched-chain amino acids and arginine but low in aromatic amino acids and tryptophan (for example, milo, corn, soybean, or linseed meal) in addition to grass hay. Vitamins A, C, and E should also be supplemented. In cases with renal failure, protein, calcium, and phosphorus should be restricted to maintenance or lower levels. Grass hay and corn are the best feeds for horses with reduced renal function. Do not offer free-choice salt to horses with dependent edema from uncompensated chronic heart failure. Following gastrointestinal resection, legume hay and grain mixtures are the feeds of choice. Horses with diarrhea should not be deprived or oral or enteral alimentation for prolonged periods of time. Liquid formulas may be used if bulk or gastrointestinal motility are a problem. Apple cider vinegar and a high grain diet may reduce the incidence of enteroliths in horses prone to this problem. Pelleted feeds will reduce fecal volume and produce softer feces for horses that have had rectovaginal lacerations or surgery. Horses with small intestinal dysfunction or resection should be offered low residue diets initially, but long-term maintenance requires diets that promote large intestinal digestion (alfalfa hay, vegetable oil, restricted grain). Geriatric horses (greater than 20 years old need diets similar to those recommended for horses 6 to 18 months old.

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