What to Do About Horses With Loose Poop

Our equine nutritionist offers her secrets for solving chronic diarrhea in horses.
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What to Do About Horses With Loose Poop
Research has shown live Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast helps stabilize the horse’s hindgut environment. | Photo: The Horse Staff

Q. For the last several months my horse has had chronic loose stools. I had the vet out and she has investigated but can’t find anything wrong. She’s suggested that, because my horse is otherwise healthy, I shouldn’t worry about it. However, I can’t help but think there’s something wrong. Plus, the loose manure coats my horse’s legs and is irritating his skin. I’ve tried most of the probiotics available at my feedstore with no impact. Do you have any suggestions?

A. Chronic loose manure or passing water after manure is an issue horse owners often ask me about. It appears to be a condition that plagues many horses and is certainly distressing to owners. My first recommendation is always to have your vet examine the horse to rule out issues such as sand in the large colon or internal parasites, which can cause loose manure, as well as pathogenic (disease-causing) bacteria such as salmonella.

Assuming the horse has an otherwise clean bill of health, I do have a few things I typically try and that often help. Which I try first depends on the horse’s history and the information the person managing the horse provides me with

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Clair Thunes, PhD, is an equine nutritionist who owns Clarity Equine Nutrition, based in Gilbert, Arizona. She works as a consultant with owners/trainers and veterinarians across the United States and globally to take the guesswork out of feeding horses and provides services to select companies. As a nutritionist she works with all equids, from WEG competitors to Miniature donkeys and everything in between. Born in England, she earned her undergraduate degree at Edinburgh University, in Scotland, and her master’s and doctorate in nutrition at the University of California, Davis. Growing up, she competed in a wide array of disciplines and was an active member of the U.K. Pony Club. Today, she serves as the district commissioner for the Salt River Pony Club.

4 Responses

  1. Could you please tell me the amount that you were feeding your horse? I would really like to give this a try on my Paint.

  2. From my own experience of having a horse with this problem you could, additionally, try reducing the sugar in his diet by soaking hay, using a fibre/oil based diet and managing access to lush grass.

  3. My husband’s Arab at 26 would arrive in Florida for the winter and would pick around the green fresh acorns. Tried all of the above plus! Had several seasons of chronic diarrhea. Horse friends who had some celiac problems suggested Metamucil. 4 days and I had normal poop! Everyone heard from crying hallelujah! More psyllium in metamucil than sand aid horse products. In Florida the horses do not get a dry meal. Period. Water is cheap and easy to put on food. Wet alfalfa in a bucket of water for lunch. No colic concerns. Small hole net over the roll of tifton 44.
    The old guy is gone now. He munched on acorns. I prepared 15+ gallons of beet pulp, hay/alfalfa pellets/soaked cubes. 4-5 meals each day. We laid him to rest at 32. He was the master teacher for me. I share this in his honor.

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