Holistic Horse Health: The Buzz From the Barn

Cerise at Buck clinicMadalyn Ward, DVM shares her answers to specific holistic horse care questions from clients.

Q – Is it safe to use Diatomaceous Earth on horses as an anti-parasitic? If so, how much and how often?

A – I tried Diatomaceous Earth for parasite control years ago and it was not effective. It might work in another climate but did not help in Central TX. I use gut conditioning as my main line of worm control. I feed a probiotic mix to help keep the gut healthy and resistant to parasites. I give 10 to 15 capsules once a month, ideally close to the full moon. I watch my horses closely for any sign of dull hair or weight loss. I also do fecal exams once or twice a year to be safe.

Q – During a routine pre-purchase exam, one of my horses was discovered to have abnormal retinas. This started the journey to my discovery that my entire herd is extremely Vitamin E deficient. Being in Canada – with our overly long winters – our access to green grass, which seems to be the only natural source of Vitamin E, is extremely limited. I strongly suspect that most horses – everywhere, not just my farm – that are not on good pasture, are deficient. The only products which seem to be good for supplementation are extremely expensive. The acetate forms have to be given in such enormous quantities, and they are not well absorbed. I am very discouraged. The Vitamin E deficiency has caused irreversible neurological changes in 2 of my horses. There are neurological changes in many more of my young stock, which should be taken care of with extreme supplementation. do you know anyone else that has encountered this? and how did you deal with it? Any ideas on affordable Vitamin E supplements?

A – Wheat germ and wheat germ oil are the best sources of natural Vitamin E. You also want to make sure your horses’ diets are not depleting what Vitamin E they have. Chlorinated water and poor quality fats, such as vegetable oil, will interfere with absorption of natural Vitamin E. Blue green algae also has a sparing effect on Vitamin E because it is so high in antioxidants. Seeds also tend to be high in Vitamin E but you want quality seeds, such as chia.

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