Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Magnesium For Horses With Ulcers

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Meet The Author: Dr Nerida Mcgilchrist

Ask the Vet – Aloe for horses with a history of ulcers

Dr Nerida McGilchrist is FeedXLs resident equine nutrition specialist. With a degree in Rural Science, a doctorate degree in equine nutrition and nearly 20 years of full time, on the ground experience in feeding all types of horses Nerida is able to help FeedXL members solve any problem they may come up against with feeding their horses. To learn more about Nerida and to meet the rest of the FeedXL team, check out our About Us page here.

No Evidence Of Ulcer Healing

In the two studies previously described, the researchers only analyzed pH levels. They did not evaluate the effects of antacid supplementation on the presence of gastric ulcers.

Although antacids raise gastric pH levels in horses, they have not been shown to support ulcer healing in research studies.

In one study, a pelleted antacid supplement that neutralized the gastric environment for 6 hours was found not to heal ulcers.

Horses might show improvements in ulcer symptoms such as low appetite, chronic colic or poor disposition on this product.

However, the underlying ulcers are not healed through the use of antacids. Continuous use is required to see any effect on symptoms.

Symptoms Of Too Much Magnesium In Horses

Too much of a good thing is bad for you, as the adage goes. Magnesium overdose is known as hypermagnesemia. The condition occurs when the bloods plasma Mg concentration exceeds 1.1 mmol/L.

Hypermagnesemia is a condition that rarely happens and is more common in animals with monogastric digestive systems. The main concern of too much Mg in the blood is the effect it has on the circulatory system.

Horses are at risk of hypermagnesemia if they receive an overdose of oral magnesium sulfate during conservative medical management of impaction colics in the large intestines.

The magnesium sulfate is administered through a nasogastric tube into the stomach to act as a hygroscopic agent. The salts create an osmotic pull to encourage water to be absorbed into the gastrointestinal lumen to help soften the impaction and relieve colic symptoms.

A horse with too much magnesium in its system will start to sweat profusely, show signs of muscle weakness, and then cardiovascular symptoms begin to worsen. Horses become recumbent with tachycardia and tachypnea .

Echocardiogram changes occur when blood plasma concentration exceeds 2.5mmol/L with prolonged PR intervals. Deep tendon reflexes disappear after the concentration reaches 5mmol/L, and then hypotension and respiratory depression ensue. Death due to cardiac arrest is possible at levels above 6-7mmol/L.

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Magnesium Is Often The Most Neglected Mineral In Horse Feeds

Spring grass is typically deficient in magnesium due to the fast growth rate and at this time of year many horses seem hotter and more difficult to ride. Owners often attribute this to too many carbohydrates in the grass. While this may be part of the story, what is often overlooked is that these horses may be deficient in magnesium.

Magnesium deficiency has varying effects on the horse population. Some horses do not suffer any signs while others are almost unrideable due to their apparent silliness and hyperactivity. Adding magnesium to their diet may have a dramatic calming effect. To understand why magnesium affects the horse in a calming manner, it is important to know what is happening in your horses body on a cellular level when there is a magnesium shortfall.

What Does This Tell Us

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While this is only one study, it does serve to demonstrate, as the authors have noted, that all of these forms of magnesium are suitable and capable of restoring magnesium levels in magnesium deficient animals. It also means that blanket statements like organic magnesium is more bioavailable than inorganic magnesium are not supported by this research as while 2 forms of organic magnesium were the most bioavailable, magnesium chloride and magnesium oxide were the 3rd and 4th most bioavailable according to this study.

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Big Cost For Little Benefit

Lastly, antacid supplements are costly. One popular brand of equine antacid supplements costs $4.20 per day.

This is still significantly cheaper than Omeprazole treatment, which can cost $700.00 a month or more for horses.

But considering the lack of long-term efficacy for these supplements and potential negative effects on digestion, there are better options out there that are more cost-effective.

Want To Find Out More

Head to the GastroAID Recovery page, get in touch on 1800 KELATO or email .

References:Sykes, BW, Sykes, KM, & Hallowell, GD 2013, Efficacy of a Combination of a Unique Pectin-Lecithin Complex , Live Yeast and Magnesium Hydroxide in the Prevention of EGUS and Faecal Acidosis in Thoroughbred Racehorses: A Randomised, Blinded, Placebo Controlled Clinical Trial Equine Veterinary Journal, vol. 45, no. s44, pp. 13.Sykes, BW, Sykes, KM, & Hallowell, GD 2014, Efficacy of a Combination of Apolectol, Live Yeast , and Magnesium Hydroxide in the Management of Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome in Thoroughbred Racehorses: A Blinded, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial Journal of Equine Veterinary Science, vol. 34, no. 11-12, pp. 12741278, doi: 10.1016/j.jevs.2014.09.006.

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Using Nutrition To Manage Horses With Gastric Ulcers

A horse owner recently contacted us about changing her horses diet. She stated that they are ¾ of the way through show season and he is just off his game. It seems that the horse was showing a lack of appetite and not finishing his grain. In addition, his disposition became rather grumpy and his performance level was suffering. In addition, a few times he had shown signs of mild colic over the past two months.

We suggested the owner contact her veterinarian, as it sounded like the horse may have an ulcer. The percentage of horses with ulcers continues to increase, and higher intensity levels of training are correlated with an increase in ulcer incidence. The ulcers often occur in the upper third of the stomach, which does not have a mucus layer and does not secrete bicarbonate that helps to buffer stomach acid. In general, horses managed with 24-hour access to well-established, high-quality pasture are less likely to have gastric ulcers however, studies have shown that the prevalence of squamous ulcers in horses exposed to pasture varies by regions of the U.S. and management. This is likely due to the fact that as a horse grazes, it produces large amounts of saliva, which contain the bicarbonate and amylase needed to provide a buffer for the stomach lining.

  • Allow the horse to be turned out or hand grazed.
  • High starch diets also tend to aggravate ulcers due to increased acid production. A high fat, high fiber feed is ideal.
  • Is The Supplement Backed By Research

    How to Feed a Horse with Ulcers

    When picking a gut health supplement, you want to make sure that the product has scientific research behind its ingredients. It is quite easy to start to enter the black hole of research, so dont be afraid to ask the company to show you the science behind the ingredients within the product.

    Dr Sykes found in his independent research, that the key ingredients of GastroAID Recovery, had a positive effect on reducing the development, or exacerbation, of EGUS . In the same study, the core constituent ingredients of GastroAID Recovery were also demonstrated to reduce the rate of occurrence of faecal acidosis in a high-risk population of Thoroughbred racehorses .

    Not only is GastroAID Recovery backed by Dr Sykes independent research, but it also has scientifically proven high-quality ingredients that are all listed on the label.

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    Speed Of Pain Alleviation

    Your equine buddy might be battling an advanced ulcer, and suffering with a lot of pain and discomfort. Hence, to make the treatment process speedy, using high potency supplements would be a good idea. Therefore, make sure you evaluate the speed of pain alleviation rather than price or any other factor when selecting one.

    Which Magnesium Is Gentle On Stomach

    Magnesium glycinate is one of the stomachs most gentlest medications. Unlike other forms of magnesium, it may not have the same side effects, such as an upset stomach or loosened stools. Its a good supplement for people recovering from bariatric surgery or anyone who is at risk of magnesium deficiency. People with kidney disease should consult a doctor before starting treatment. Heart disease, diabetes, elevated blood pressure, and diabetes can all have positive effects. Magnesium glycinate can reduce insulin resistance and slightly reduce blood pressure. It can also help people with diabetes and heart disease.

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    Magnesium: The Mineral Superhero

    Very few people are aware of the enormous role magnesium plays in a horses body. After oxygen, water, and basic food, magnesium may be the most important element needed to maintain health. It is vitally important, yet hardly known.

    Magnesium is by far the most important mineral, regulating over 325 enzymes in the body. Research shows that magnesium supplementation improves performance and allows human athletes to reach exhaustion later in their exercise routine. It increases oxygen delivery to muscle tissue, it promotes muscle strength, endurance, and relaxation. Magnesium also activates enzymes necessary for the metabolism of carbohydrates and amino acids which lead to protein synthesis.

    The Causes Of Equine Magnesium Deficiency


    If a horses ration contains adequate grazing, hay, and grain, they are unlikely to have low magnesium levels. Unlike ruminants, horses absorb between 30-60% of the magnesium fed to them in their ration.

    Magnesium deficiency has few causes, and most symptoms are often subclinical. Dietary analysis is the best way to determine if your horses ration is deficient in magnesium.

    Fast-growing grasses are low in magnesium, which can predispose a horse to a deficiency, especially as they may also be low in sodium and high in potassium. Sodium helps with magnesium absorption, so when it is also low.

    Ration composition and digestibility affect magnesium levels. Pasture grasses have higher magnesium digestibility than grains do. High grain diets, therefore, make horses more susceptible to deficiencies in the macromineral.

    High amounts of fat, phosphates, oxalates, and fiber may also decrease magnesium absorption in horses.

    Magnesium deficient pastures include winter pastures with little herbage fertilized with potash and /or nitrogen.

    Every bale of hay cannot be analyzed to determine if there is potential for a magnesium deficiency, but considering pasture deficiencies at various times of the year can be a clue when a deficiency is suspected.

    In order to evaluate magnesium levels in a horse, clinicians monitor renal and urinary excretion of Mg. If the levels are low, the magnesium level in the urine will be negligible.

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    How To Feed Your Horse Magnesium

    There are several available ways to administer magnesium, including injectable forms, oral supplements, and transdermal applications.

    It is very important to note that any sudden and drastic changes to a horses diet will result in gastrointestinal upset. It is essential to always gradually alter a horses diet over several days to allow the gastrointestinal system to adjust slowly.

    When determining what magnesium source to feed a horse, several factors need to consider, namely absorption rate, concentration, cost, and palatability.

    Absorption rates in inorganic forms are around seventy percent, which is higher than common feedstuffs, which are only around forty-sixty percent.

    Supplement formulations vary, and some are less concentrated than others. Low concentrations mean owners must feed horses some supplements in larger quantities to provide the same amount of magnesium that a more concentrated product would.

    Oral supplementation is the most popular and practical method to combat magnesium deficiency. Supplements with magnesium for horses with ulcers may include magnesium oxide as it acts as a buffer in horses suffering from or prone to gastric ulcers.

    Of the numerous formulations of oral magnesium available, Di-magnesium malate for horses is the best form. Benefits range from a high absorption rate, high bioavailability, and low potential for laxative effects.

    Magenium comes in several forms, including citrate, oxide, and ascorbate .

    In 15lbs of hay :

    An Equine Magnesium Dosage Chart

    Magnesium comes in several different forms. Listed below are a few types available:

  • Magnesium sulfate is more commonly known as Epsom salts. Nutritionists and vets do not recommend using it regularly as it may lead to diarrhea.
  • Magnesium oxide comes in a fine white powder, which is commonly found in horse feeds. The risk of overdose is minimal as it is only absorbed if there is a deficiency. It also contains the highest concentration of magnesium when compared to other forms.
  • Magnesium chloride provides a good source of magnesium and is readily absorbed by the body.
  • Magnesium chloride flakes have a bitter taste, making them unpalatable to horses even though they have a very high bioavailability rate. Owners can try dissolving the flakes in water to mask the bitterness and improve palatability.
  • Magnesium hydroxide requires the horses stomach to convert it with peptic secretions of hydrochloric acid into magnesium chloride to enable it to become bioavailable. This process hinders its appeal.
  • Magnesium oil is liquid magnesium chloride that lets the body quickly absorb magnesium through the gastrointestinal tract.
  • A qualified nutritionist will best be able to review and adjust a horses diet according to its individual needs. It is not ideal for reviewing the magnesium levels in isolation but rather for looking at a balanced mineral ratio to support optimal health and performance.

    Pellets 2.55oz

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    Why Do Horses Need Magnesium

    Magnesium has several functions in the body. These functions mostly center around the musculoskeletal and nervous systems. The balance of magnesium in the body is delicate, and there is an intricate balance with several other macrominerals needed to maintain homeostasis.

    Magnesium stores reside mostly in the bones for this reason, around sixty percent of the total stores are unavailable to the body. The remaining forty percent is available for mobilization and use in several metabolic reactions.

    Over 300 enzyme reactions in the body require magnesium. The reactions range from generating cellular energy to decoding genetic information. Magnesium is crucial for nerve impulse transmission and muscle relaxation. The intricate balance between calcium and magnesium results in subclinical symptoms when disrupted.

    Homeostasis between intracellular and extracellular magnesium is an intricate balance act as very little of the mineral occurs in the extracellular fluid. Only around one percent, to be specific. Testing for hypomagnesemia through blood tests is inaccurate due to this fact.

    The use of magnesium as a calming supplement stems from the role it plays in nerve excitement and muscle contraction. Decreased levels may cause nervousness, and supplementation has shown some positive influences in research studies addressing horse behavior and management.

    Low plasma levels of magnesium impair carbohydrate metabolism and may be a reason for a horse developing insulin resistance.

    Gastric Ulcers In Horses: Signs Causes And Care

    Magnesium – getting it right is crucial
    • The Superfood Dude

    Gastric Ulcers in Horses: Signs, Causes and Care Ulcers remain a hot topic of conversation. As is often the case, facts mix freely with misinformation. Signs arent always clear

    • Discomfort triggered by eating/unable to finish a meal. This appears as a preference for hay over concentrates in horses with ulcers.
    • Bruxism which is tooth grinding. This is a sign of discomfort.

    There is also confusion about causesCare options

    • Hydrolyzed Collagen may bind to exposed tissues and serve as a source of connective tissue-specific amino acids.
    • Deglycyrrhized Licorice has been proven to support healing.
    • The amino acid L-Glutamine supports antioxidant defense systems and cell proliferation.
    • Supplementation with Probiotic strains known to normally colonize the stomach such as the Lactobacilli will help preserve an environment that is hostile to harmful bacterial strains taking hold.

    The significance of gastric ulcers.

    Posted inEquine and Digestion

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    Health Benefits Of Magnesium For Horses

    Below are the top 10 reasons why horses need adequate magnesium in their diet:

  • It works closely with calcium to maintain proper muscle function. When muscles receive nerve signals telling them to contract, calcium is released from special compartments within cells and moves onto muscle fibres causing them to contract. Magnesium stops the contraction by pushing calcium back into these compartments.
  • This macromineral can have a performance-boosting effect for equine athletes, supporting enhanced oxygen delivery to muscles, muscle strength, and metabolic processes that result in protein synthesis.
  • Magnesium helps nerve cells transmit signals to each other and to muscles by regulating ion balance across cell membranes.
  • It is thought to have a calming effect on horses, helping to ease muscle tremors and nervousness. It is frequently fed as a mood supplement to horses showing signs of excitability or abnormal behaviour.
  • It can improve tolerance to stress and resistance to illness and injury. Stress causes magnesium to be depleted in the body faster. Ensuring optimal magnesium levels can help speed up return to homeostasis following exposure to an external stressor.
  • It can contribute to normal fat distribution in horses by minimizing cresty neck or fatty pockets.
  • Magnesium helps cells respond to insulin. Supplementation with this mineral might improve insulin sensitivity, particularly in overweight horses.
  • Does Not Target The Root Cause

    Antacids may increase your horses gastric pH levels, but they will not address the root causes of ulcers.

    Equine gastric ulcers are not usually caused by low pH in isolation. Usually, there are underlying factors that contribute to excessive acidity in the stomach.

    If these root causes are not addressed, ulcers are likely to persist and recur in your horse.

    Risk factors associated with the development of gastric ulcers can include:

    • High grain intake
    • Social environment
    • Excessive NSAID use

    Each of these risk factors has a unique mechanism of action that can contribute to gastric ulcers.

    Antacids can temporarily reduce the risk of ulcers forming. However, if the underlying causes are not addressed, ulcers are almost sure to return. Antacids are only a temporary fix.

    Antacids also do not directly support tissue healing or the formation of a protective barrier between gastric acid and stomach tissue. They do not address inflammation or oxidative stress in the stomach lining, nor do they support the function of the immune system.

    Compared to other anti-ulcer supplements that do address the root causes of ulcers, antacids are much less effective.

    If your horse is prone to ulcers, we recommend consulting with a qualified equine nutritionist and your horses veterinarian to optimize their feeding program and management.

    This will help you develop strategies to naturally mitigate the risk of developing gastric ulcers and support tissue healing without relying on antacids.

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