Holistic Horse Health: The Buzz From the Barn

Madalyn on horse

Madalyn Ward, DVM shares her answers to specific holistic horse care questions from clients. To see more questions and answers on real holistic horse care situations check out our Holistic Horsekeeping and Horse Harmony Facebook pages.

Q – Read your article about Aloe Vera and slippery elm to heal equine ulcers. I found a product that has both but it’s a powdered formula of aloe and I was wondering if powdered is equivalent to the liquid form?

A – I have never used the powdered form so don’t know how it would work. The brand of aloe that I use is the Pharm-Aloe because I have found it to be the most potent. You can see details about why this is the one I prefer at http://www.holistichorsekeeping.com/horse-health.html#PAVJG. I have tried other juice forms in the past and chose this one for personal use with my own horses and with my client’s horses, it’s the one I have found to give the most positive results.

Q – I have a Water Temperament horse that you have worked with in the past. He had a pretty bad injury on his back left leg and is doing very well with that now but he has developed terrible reactions to bug bites. I have had him for 3 years now. When I got him he had beautiful skin, his face was soft and beautiful. Lately he has been rubbing every part of his body. He has rub marks and scars on his face, neck, anywhere he can rub. I keep a fly sheet on him during the day and he always has his fly mask on. But if you could see him now you would not know he’s the same horse. He has rubbed his mane off partially and he just looks miserable. My current vet, prescribed Hydroxizine. I am giving him 6 tablets twice a day but it isn’t helping. Can you recommend something else that will bring him relief from the irritable reactions he is having? I looked on your website but don’t really know what he needs. I really appreciate any help you can give him.

A – You might talk to the previous owner and see what she fed him. I know she gave him this powdered blue green algae blend and that product can help prevent bug allergies. I would start this on 1 tsp a day. You may not see immediate relief but over time this product can help modulate the immune system.

Q – My blacksmith has noticed a noted improvement in feet in a client who gives her horse Thorvin kelp. My TB has terrible feet so I have started feeding her it. But I am concerned about Iodine toxicity as you wrote about. 1 TBS of Thorvin provides 10 m of iodine. She is also getting Equimin which provides 30 ppm of iodine which is .03 mg. Is this too much?

A – This is from Dr. Kellon’s Cushing’s group and I trust it to be accurate:

You’re right, half an ounce of Source is more iodine than you need, but it is not toxic. My NRC (6th ed) recommends 3.175 mg iodine for a 1000 lb horse (0.007 mg x 453.592) and lists 3.5 mg the requirement for a 500 kg horse.

I’m relying on Patti Kuvik’s calculations here. She figured that half an ounce of Source provides a minimum 9.24 mg and a maximum of 13.9 mg iodine. A teaspoon or 1/8 ounce supplies between 2.3 mg and 3.49 mg iodine. If you want to dial in to a more precise dose, it’s easier to work in grams. You’ll still be dealing with an approximate dose because of the range of potency (660 ppm minimum).

As for toxicity, the NRC states, “The maximum tolerable concentration of iodine has been set at 5 mg/kg of dietary intake.” NRC assumes 2% of body weight as dietary intake for maintenance horses. We can dive into those weeds if you want to. That is not the same as 5 mg of iodine per day. It goes on to note the Merck Manual described toxicity in pregnant mares at lower intakes of 40 mg/day. So to be prudent, use <40 mg/day as the upper safe limit.