Hindgut quick fact update. The hindgut consists of the caecum, large colon, small colon and rectum and houses trillions of microbes (yep, you read that right!) that produce enzymes to breakdown (ferment) plant fibre and provide your horse with energy in the form of volatile fatty acids (VFAs).
Horses are unable to digest fibre using their own digestive enzymes and rely on microbes for fermentation. The beneficial microbes are in a very delicate balance and do not appreciate a change in their environment and are responsible for not only fermentation but boosting the immune system, inhibiting the production and absorption of bacterial toxins, and excluding bad bacteria (they are clearly very important!).
Now, you might be thinking “but what issues can occur in my horse’s hindgut?” There are multiple issues that you might have heard of that can arise when the hindgut is not functioning at its full potential. Here are some of the repeat offenders you might hear about.
Hindgut acidosis occurs when undigested starch and simple sugars overflow into the hindgut where they are rapidly broken down. This results in the production of lactic acid that increases the acidity of the hindgut, ‘bad’ bacteria begin to increase and ‘good’ bacteria begin to die off.
Right Dorsal Colitis (RDC) is a term given to ulcers found on the lining of the upper right section of the horse’s large colon. It usually occurs in response to long-term, high dose treatment plans of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as bute. NSAIDs relieve pain, however, they can impact the gut’s natural protective mechanisms.
How about Leaky Gut? One of the gut’s most important roles is to act as a barrier against harmful microbes and toxins. Dysfunction of this barrier can alter the intestinal permeability, referred to as ‘leaky gut’. Pathogens and toxins are able to pass through the intestinal wall into the bloodstream resulting in an inflammatory response. Causes of this issue can include exposure to physical or psychological stressors, exercise (which reduces blood flow to the colon), obesity, alterations in the gut microbiota and overuse of NSAIDs.
What can this mean for my horse? The tricky thing about the hindgut is that we are unable to scope this area to visualise the intestinal lining so we need to be aware of the clinical signs showing in our horses. The clinical signs of RDC include:
- Recurrent colic episodes
- Intermittent diarrhoea
- Weight loss
- Poor performance
Signs of ‘leaky gut’ are similar to RDC but can include:
- Poor performance
- Weight loss
- Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome
- Multiple Organ Dysfunction Syndrome
How can you and Kelato help your horse’s hindgut?
Good nutrition with a focus on gut health, veterinary treatment advice and appropriate management practices are essential for maintaining a healthy hindgut.
Management practices can include:
- Feeding plenty of forage
- Reducing starch/sugar in the diet
- Feeding cooked grains over raw
- Feeding small, frequent meals
- Avoiding prolonged use of antibiotics (always follow veterinary advice)
- Supporting the immune system
- Minimising stress
- Including a digestive health supplement
Kelato’s GastroAID Everyday is economically formulated to maintain the health and function of the total digestive tract. Its daily use acknowledges the importance of optimal digestive function for a healthier, happier horse.
GastroAID Everyday is beneficial for hindgut health due to the unique, powerful prebiotic and two live yeast probiotics. Just like our digestive system, the horse’s bacterial gut balance be easily disrupted and the ingredients in GastroAID Everyday can assist with supporting your horse during this period.
What does GastroAID Everyday do to help your horse?
- Controls stomach acidity
- Promotes healthy stomach lining
- Inhibits harmful bacteria
- Improves intestinal integrity
- Promotes beneficial microbes
- Enhances the body’s defences
With GastroAID Everyday your horse will show improvements in areas such as:
- Body condition
- Coat quality
- Manure quality
- Overall well-being
Remember your horse’s hindgut really is a powerhouse and a remarkable feature within their digestive tract. As horse owners, we want to ensure we are aware of practices that encourage a positive microbial balance to maintain optimal digestive health and function in our 4-legged friends!