California Riding Magazine • December, 2012

Ask the Vet
Feeding after Colic,
Surgery and Colitis

by Lydia F. Gray, DVM, MA

I have a 7 year old haflinger mare - pleasure use - I'm concerned with being sure she's receiving adequate nutrition requirements without over feeding. Currently she's on a hay based diet with a gastric supplement and a joint supplement fed daily. She receives soaked alfalfa cubes daily in order to add supplements to her diet. She has a history of colic including surgery and a bout of colitis which landed her in the hospital for 10 days. Her feed includes Triple Crown Light fed daily (approximately 1-2 lbs / day). Thank you, Barbara

Dear Barbara,

Sorry to hear about your mare's mishaps—colic, surgery and colitis. Fortunately her diet based on hay, supplemented with the correct amount of a pelleted concentrate, and supported with a handful of alfalfa cubes sounds very appropriate. With the stress your mare has been under, a gastric (stomach) supplement is not a bad idea, although given her history of hindgut or large intestine issues you might want to consider a digestive supplement to provide ingredients targeted for the tissues, environment and special needs of the cecum and colon.

Ingredients to look for include:

  • probiotics (direct fed microorganisms or bacteria such as Lactobacillus, Enterococcus and Bifidobacterium)
  • prebiotics (soluble fibers like MOS, FOS, arabinogalactan, inulin and even psyllium)
  • digestive enzymes (amylase, lipase, protease)
  • active live yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae and boulardii)
  • amino acids (glutamine, glycine, threonine)
  • herbs (turmeric, ginger, licorice)
  • hindgut buffers

Many of these have research supporting their use in maintaining a normal, healthy hindgut so I encourage you to check them out. Sounds like you're on the right track though—keep up the good work!

Article provided by SmartPak.
Dr. Lydia Gray is the Medical Director/Staff Veterinarian for SmartPak, where she guides research and new product development, answers questions on her Ask the Vet blog, and speaks around the country at various events such as Equine Affaire, Dressage at Devon, and the USHJA Trainers’ Symposiums.