Delayed gastric emptying causing impactions

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17 October 2016
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Hi, has anyone had experience of the above. Our 14 year old Connie has been off his food for some time, he was scoped around 6 weeks ago and grade 1 - 2 ulcers found. When he was scoped his stomach was impacted but he was still pooing so this was a surprise to us including the vets. He's been treated for ulcers and went back into Leahurst to be rescoped yesterday, only to get a call from vet today to say he's impacted again so they can't scope as stomach full of food. Obviously this is no coincidence and the vet said his stomach is not emptying quickly enough but they don't know why. They are suggesting management changes and keep out at grass 24/7 and not give hay and rescope in a month. We moved yards in Feb and since then all these problems have happened, his previous owner said he's always been fussy and gone off feeds for days at a time which implies this problem isn't new. Any thoughts at all? Anyone been through this ? Please help xx
 

Midlifecrisis

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Yes absolutely I have…my mare went off her food..had high temp on and off ..we treated her for infections but she d have good days and bad..drinking and pooing all the time. We were referred to Weipers in Glasgow. When fully examined and scoped her stomach was completely blocked and scope couldn’t get into stomach hay and grass were poking out into gullet. Her other internal organs were shoved backwards and to the sides. She was starved and flushed for 8 days…trying to empty and soften the mass. Three quarters of the stomach emptied and obviously she had ulcers from the stretching. She came home and was allowed soaked grass nuts and fresh grass only.I fed her every 2 hours through the day and night for another 2 weeks then back for a scope…and stomach wasn’t emptying again (I had to weigh the poo too). She came home but within a week developed colic badly..very badly and she had to be put to sleep. We never got to the bottom of why the stomach wouldn’t empty properly….This was 2016 and at that time it was written up as a very rare occurrenc. My memory is failing me regarding names at Weipers but the lead vet there at the time was renowned for his stomach problem research work.

My apologies for it not being a happy story.
 

HobleytheTB

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Not my own horse, but I knew of one who developed the same problem seemingly out of the blue. I think the horse was put on a grass and soaked nuts type diet, no hay etc. The first time it happened it took around a week in the equine hospital to clear the blockage. Rescoped after a month and the stomach was totally full again. Owner decided to pts rather than put the horse through the same ordeal again. Sorry to say it wasn't a better outcome. Vets at the time didn't know what had caused it. Horse had been on same property for 10 or so years without any stomach issues so it was a real mystery.
 

Tash88

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What type of soil are you on at the new yard? If it is sandy, that could be causing the issues, especially if they have started since you moved. My horse had a similar episode and I gave him psyllium husks which completely resolved the issue. I did do a faecal sand test via Westgates which didn't show up a major problem, but due to having ulcers in the past my horse has a sensitive gut, and so I think it was enough to cause discomfort. He wasn't impacted to the extent of colic, but it would take him a few 'goes' to do a dropping and he was generally uncomfortable, with a slightly decreased appetite. He is now on a probiotic feed and has a course of psyllium each month for 5 days (if you give it continuously it loses its effect as the gut gets used to it).

Wishing you all the best.
 
Joined
17 October 2016
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What type of soil are you on at the new yard? If it is sandy, that could be causing the issues, especially if they have started since you moved. My horse had a similar episode and I gave him psyllium husks which completely resolved the issue. I did do a faecal sand test via Westgates which didn't show up a major problem, but due to having ulcers in the past my horse has a sensitive gut, and so I think it was enough to cause discomfort. He wasn't impacted to the extent of colic, but it would take him a few 'goes' to do a dropping and he was generally uncomfortable, with a slightly decreased appetite. He is now on a probiotic feed and has a course of psyllium each month for 5 days (if you give it continuously it loses its effect as the gut gets used to it).

Wishing you all the best.
We have only moved 200 m from our last yard but very sandy soil as we are coastal. He is obsessed with sand and eats it in chunks, has been tested for all sorts of mineral deficiencies but there isn't any. The muzzle acts as a convenient shovel for the sand and it's impossible to stop him. He's done it all his life and he's 14, so I guess the obsession is catching up on him now. We do the psyllium flush and it does work as no sand found in his guts last time. It's hard because we've been told not to give him hay/haylage and just let him graze 24/7 which means he has access to unlimited sand/soil. I do think the sand is the underlying cause though.
 
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Could there be something in the sand that he is craving? Salt, or another mineral?
He's been tested at Leahurst for deficiencies and has none. They think he just enjoys eating it but ultimately that is what is causing the problem I'm sure. The trouble is the vets want him on grass 24/7 to improve GI motility but it just gives more access for sand/soil. Very difficult management situation I think
 

Ricotta

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Psyllium husks can create a blockage if there is not enough fluid in the stomach. It forms a solid mass that doesn’t move through.
 

GrassChop

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Does he get any hard feed? If so, what does he have?
Mine basically has soup as her tea as she doesn't drink enough water and recently had impaction colic due to this so more water might help in your situation.
 
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I’m sure I saw a video of a vet tubing a horse with Coke to dissolve a mass of organic matter in the stomach. I could be wrong though.
Yes this is exactly what Leahurst have done both times, usually unblocked with 3 applications? of coke over a 24 hour period. He has slow GI motility so surely starving him for 14 hours prior to scoping is going to really slow it down and cause things to get stuck? They said if he is impacted next time then it is PTS. He shows no signs of discomfort / colic anything, is bright, alert, normal respiratory, heart rate etc, just has a firm mass of food inside him that needs breaking up. He is still pooing cos stomach isn't full of the mass but has reduced appetite. Very weird.
 

Midlifecrisis

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Coke was used on my mare and she reacted really badly due to the ulcers..her reaction really upset the vets. I’m so sorry mousesmum…it’s a rotten time you re having.
 

druid

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It's worth discussing Misoprostol (now considered superior to omeprazole for ulcers) and bethanechol (pro kinetic to treat delayed emptying) with your vet. I would be feeding only grass and a complete senior feed soaked, no more hay ever if he was mine. Hay cubes/pellets perhaps.
 
Joined
17 October 2016
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It's worth discussing Misoprostol (now considered superior to omeprazole for ulcers) and bethanechol (pro kinetic to treat delayed emptying) with your vet. I would be feeding only grass and a complete senior feed soaked, no more hay ever if he was mine. Hay cubes/pellets perhaps.
He's on Bethanechol now and 24/7 grazing, he comes in twice a day to stand for an hour and has a pink mash feed with his medication in. The ulcers went very quickly as they were so mild so no need to treat them now. He's due to go back in to Leahurst for another scope next week but I am dreading them saying he is impacted again. He shows no signs of pain at all but never has, but the stomach is definitely delayed as he poos loads when ridden but if in stable for any length of time doesn't poo. It's a real mystery but such a sad situation for a cracking pony with loads of life left in him for work, he loves work more than anything and always looks so happy :(
 
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