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Re: enteroliths

Hi Marisa,

Yes, alfalfa is still a major suspect in enterolith formation due to
it's creating a more alkaline environment in the gut which favors the
formation of the enteroliths.  SW-grown alfalfa seems to be the most
suspicious due to the extremely high magnesium content (one of the
components of enteroliths).  The latest theory being tested is that
mineral content of water is not as much a factor as the pH is.  This is
being looked at because of the unusually high prevalence of enteroliths
in places like the SW deserts, even in horses that have never seen
alfalfa.  I noticed your email address is Ridgecrest, and that's one of
the areas where there's a high incidence of enteroliths.

Other predisposing feeds are brans, as they're very high in phosphorus,
one of the other major components in enteroliths.

If you can get your horse onto an all-grass hay diet, with some grain
(no rice bran or wheat bran), you'll avoid the alkaline/high
magnesium/high phosphorus diet and will at the least lessen the chance
of formation and possibly dissolve existing enteroliths as well.  I
bought a horse a year or two ago that we knew had enteroliths
(undoubtedly from many years of being fed straight alfalfa and bran by
his former owner) that we put onto a grass hay and grain ration.  Seven
months later, he died due to an unrelated problem and when we necropsied
him, the enteroliths inside showed obvious signs of being dissolved,
which we attributed to the change to a more acidic diet.

There is some clinical evidence that large amounts of vinegar added to
the ration will change the pH in the gut as well, but it takes several
cups a day.  Making changes to the basic ration will undoubtedly do far
more, BUT because you're in the Ridgecrest area, you might seriously
consider adding vinegar to her water in addition to changes in her
diet.  I would certainly encourage you to do *everything* you can, since
if she's passing stones at four, she or something about her environment
is certainly predisposing her to them, and losing a good horse to stones
is the pits.

Good luck!

Susan G

Marisa L. Monaco wrote:
> Is there any accurate new information on the treatment of a horse that has
> enteroliths?  My four year old filly had passed some small round ones a
> couple of years ago, soon after I got her.  My trainer at the time said that
> the change in exercise and diet probably caused her to pass them (they were
> quite small).  I've moved her a year ago to where I board now.  We feed a
> grain hay mix with 30-35% Alfalfa.  I do remember from a seminar I attended
> that there was a strong suspiscion that Alfalfa was a major
> cause/contributor.  I try to avoid it.  She has just passed a larger one (a
> bit larger than a golf ball).  She had been off work for 2 months as she is
> teething and was pretty cranky.  She is back onto conditioning and after our
> first ride she passed the ent.  She never seems to be colicy, always eats
> like a pig.  I'm worried, she is 5 in April and is a neat little pony.  I
> would like to do some limited distance with her eventually and then maybe
> breed her to an Arab later in life.  I'd like her to be around for a long
> time.  Any suggestions????  Marisa

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