Gastrointestinal problems in horses

Colic, watery faeces, hyperacidity: not uncommon in horses.

Watery faeces and colic, diarrhea and flatulence or even hyperacidity and other digestive disorders: gastrointestinal problems are not uncommon in horses.

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Depending on their age, breed and the way they are kept, more than 50 percent of horses regularly suffer from gastrointestinal problems. Foals have to struggle with it just as often as older sport and leisure horses. Unfortunately, horses rarely show that they are not feeling well. Some seem tired and eat less well - others continue to eat normally and appear fit. It is all the more important that you interpret even the smallest signs correctly and know when you should call the vet and when it is a rather minor problem that you can treat yourself.

This is how you recognize gastrointestinal problems in your horse

It is not easy to identify gastrointestinal problems in your horse. Nevertheless, there are many symptoms that can indicate the unpleasant discomfort. Attention: The symptoms that we present to you in this article are often non-specific and can also indicate other diseases. So they are merely indicators that should be checked by a veterinarian.

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Possible symptoms:

loss of appetite and weight loss

Increased or decreased drinking

Increased salivation

teeth grinding

General fatigue

Dull or scaly coat

Noticeably frequent or prolonged lying down



Colic, which is noticeable through scratching and spasms



Increased heart rate

Belching after eating

gastric ulcers in horses

Even mild colic can indicate a stomach ulcer or inflammation of the gastric mucosa. These problems are easy to deal with, especially at the beginning. However, if you notice too late that your horse is not feeling well, it can lead to bleeding in the stomach. You should always keep a close eye on your horse in order to be able to react to symptoms at an early stage.

Depending on the symptoms and the suspected degree of severity, your veterinarian will perform a gastroscopy in order to be able to derive a suitable therapy.

Causes of gastrointestinal problems in horses

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How does it actually come to nasty colic, fecal water and Co.? The causes are varied and not always easy to identify. We show the most common influencing factors. In this way, you can observe your horse even more closely in certain situations and quickly notice when such factors become the cause of gastrointestinal problems.


One of the most common causes of stomach problems in horses is stress. A change of stables, transport trips, a previous illness, changing caregivers, arguments with other horses: all of this can affect the sensitive horse stomach. Stress ensures that the gastric mucosa is less supplied with blood and at the same time more gastric acid is formed. The latter then irritates the sensitive gastric mucosa.

Stress can lead to everything from stomach pains to problems with the digestive process and should therefore be addressed preventively. It is recommended, for example, to feed one nerve powder.


As with us humans, medicines are supposed to help – but they can also lead to stomach irritation. Painkillers in particular, which are given after a sports injury, for example, can lead to stomach irritation.

If your horse is known to have a sensitive stomach, let the vet know. Certain painkillers are particularly gentle on the stomach.

The right feeding for your horse

The feeding itself can also lead to nasty gastrointestinal problems. Food that sticks to the stomach, such as wheat, can give a horse a stomach ache. But horses don't like to take long breaks from eating either.

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While some medical doctors recommend intermittent fasting, veterinarians point out to horse owners: snacking all day long is expressly desired! In nature, horses eat up to 16 hours a day. Therefore, they constantly produce stomach acid. So if the horse doesn't get any food for a few hours at a time, the gastric mucosa is attacked. In these cases, the stomach also produces more gastric acid and irritates the gastric mucosa almost on its own. This creates stomach problems for your horse. Another cause that is obvious: Contaminated or spoiled feed can lead to diarrhea and severe colic. Therefore, always pay attention to the expiry date and clean and good storage.

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Treating problems in the horse's gastrointestinal tract

You realize that stomach and intestinal problems in horses are not to be trifled with and they occur faster and definitely more often than you would like. It is precisely the diffuse symptoms that often make it difficult for horse owners to even notice the condition. Therefore, the advice here is: It is better to contact the vet once too many times before things get worse unnoticed. If the symptoms are weak and you are sure that the stomach problems are only temporary and of a mild nature, herbal remedies like ours are suitable Gastrocolon Vital excellent.

Such helpers can also be given preventively when changing the feed or before a nerve-wracking tournament and, thanks to the proven power of plants and herbs, they ensure a calm stomach. Chamomile, lemon balm, peppermint, anise, Iceland moss and Co. are known for their calming effect on the stomach and support the intestines.

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Avoiding your horse's stomach problems

It has to be said that a horse's gastrointestinal tract is a real mimosa. So that there are no unnecessary irritations in the digestive tract, you should pay attention to a few things.

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Better prevention than aftercare

In order to be able to prevent problems in the gastrointestinal tract, you should keep an eye on your horse at all times and take action even if there are the slightest abnormalities. This includes the entire feed management, training and husbandry. All areas have an impact on the health of the horse's stomach and intestines.

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The right feeding

Regular feeding with a high-quality food is essential for good digestion. When which food is suitable, we also explain to you in our Blog post on the subject of horse muscle building - feed selection and targeted training.

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Would you like to change the feed? Then start with a slow diet change. A radical reorientation is not for the habitual stomachs of our horses and can quickly cause stomach problems.

Avoid stress for horses

You are also well advised to support your four-legged friend with the appropriate means in stressful times. Herbal tranquilizers can ensure that gastrointestinal problems do not arise in the first place, as your horse remains mentally in the comfort zone. Stomach complaints and intestinal problems are a thing of the past.

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Grazing horses properly

Proper grazing is also essential for horses! Make sure that the grasses on the pasture are not cultivated high-performance plants, but lean and easily digestible spring grasses. Especially at the beginning of the warm season, horses' stomachs have to learn to deal with the fresh green again. It is quite normal for horses to graze for up to four weeks. Even if you treat your steed to the lush greenery and the comfortably warm sun from the bottom of your heart: the strength for the stomach lies in the peace and quiet.

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Grazing should initially be strictly limited (initially about 15 minutes with a daily increase) and above all restricted to the afternoon. In the morning, the grass boasts a particularly large amount of fructan, a sugar molecule. It sounds delicious, but it's not good for a horse's stomach. Before going out to pasture, your horse should eat enough hay so that the first hunger for the lush green is satisfied. And: The concentrated feed season is over for your horse when it is time to graze.


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