These problems can be caused by eating sand

These problems can be caused by eating sand

Sand eating is not healthy for a horse. Horses often eat sand unnoticed, but there are also horses where it is a habit to eat sand. Annoying, especially because this can lead to annoying complaints such as sand colic, for example. We are happy to explain to you in this blog post how this is done and how you can prevent it.

(Un) conscious sand intake

Horses can ingest sand in different ways. This can happen consciously or unconsciously. A known cause of unconscious sand intake is grazing on a meadow with short grass. When grazing, a horse often pulls this grass from the ground with roots. This means that the sand is also eaten at the roots.

Sand can also sometimes be found in hay and silage. This is generally caused by the fact that the grass, from which the hay or silage is made, is cut as short as possible. This is done to get the greatest possible yield from the hay or silage.

Conscious sand eaters are horses that have the annoying habit of licking sand. Horses can start licking sand out of boredom, but also from a lack of minerals. Do you feel that this is the cause of your horse's sand intake? Then take a careful look at the food you give your horse. Do you give enough (raw) food and does this food contain enough nutrients? If you are unsure, you can always decide to ask an expert for advice, for example from your vet!

Sand in the intestines

The intestines of horses are unable to process sand. Initially, the sand that ends up in the horse's belly is removed again. If your horse absorbs more sand than the intestines can drain, this can cause problems. In this case, sand remains in the lower parts and bends of the intestines. This can quickly add up to 50 kilos of residual sand.

When this is the case, the health of a horse can deteriorate. The symptoms are listlessness, weight loss, abdominal distention, diarrhea and discomfort while driving. The motility of the intestines decreases and a blockage or accumulation of gas occurs, resulting in severe abdominal pain - also called colic.

Testing yourself and diagnosing sand colic

Fortunately, it is quite easy to check whether a horse has sand in its intestines. By dissolving a horse's poo in a bucket of water, the "poo" will come off the sand. The sand sinks to the bottom of the bucket.

Prefer not "dirty hands"? Then it is also possible to put a number of fertilizer balls in a transparent plastic bag with water. Then knead the fertilizer balls so that the fertilizer dissolves and hang the bag with a point down. The sand sinks into the tip after some time.

It is wise to remember that if there is no sand in the bag or bucket, this is no guarantee that there is no sand in the intestines. In that case, give psyllium for a week and repeat the manure test.

If your horse has colic and is expected to be caused by sand, a veterinarian may decide to use an X-ray. In this way, a veterinarian can determine with certainty that there is sand colic.

The treatment

You certainly understand that the cause of the colic must be removed. The sand must be drained from the intestines! This often does not work at once and should therefore be done for a longer period of treatments. A veterinarian may decide to administer paraffin. This has a laxative effect and is not absorbed by the body.

Then it is important that a horse gets a cure with psyllium seeds, also called flea seed. When these seeds come into contact with moisture, a gel-like substance is created that drains the sand into the intestines. In some cases, surgery may be required to remove the sand from the intestines.

Preventive measures against sand eating

Fortunately, there are several preventative measures you can take to limit sand intake or to get sand out of the gut early.

  • Make sure you feed your horse sand and dust-free hay. Is the hay dusty after all? Then dip it in water before feeding so that the dust washes off. Only then give it to your horse;
  • Do you feed your horse outside? Make sure you don't put the food on a sandy surface. If there is no place in the meadow or paddock where this is possible, feed with a large bucket;
  • Keep in mind that the grass in the meadow is not too short. In addition, do not put your horse in a sandy paddock for too long. This can cause bored horses to look for all the blades they can find and take in so much sand;
  • If your horse is an active sand eater, you can choose to give a course of psyllium one week a month (for example, the Sand Exit);
  • Do a sandtest on a regular base.

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This text was translated by Google

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