Horse Diarrhea: Causes, Symptoms, Preventions, and Treatments

What Causes Horse Diarrhea?

Horses can experience diarrhea at any age and for a variety of causes. Depending on how severe the diarrhea is, horses may suddenly experience a medical emergency as a result of fluid loss.

It is crucial to notify your veterinarian as soon as your horse exhibits signs of diarrhea in case the cause is contagious. Additionally, the horse should be isolated from other horses. To assist lower the danger of dehydration, it is crucial to give the horse access to fresh, clean water.

Horse Diarrhoea Signs and Symptoms


Horses with diarrhea may display the following signs:

Watery or loose stools

acting sore or uncomfortable


Anorexia (not eating) (not eating)

Horses’ Diarrhea Reasons

These numerous diverse causes of diarrhea include:

Biological agents (Clostridium, Salmonella, coronavirus, Potomac horse fever)


consuming sand


stomach/gastric ulcers

variations in diet

administration of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

Colitis of the bowels



How Veterinarians Identify Horse Diarrhea

Based on the horse’s medical history, the results of the physical examination, and diagnostic tests, veterinarians identify diarrhea in horses.

The vet may inquire about dietary or lifestyle changes for your horse as well as any recent travel or encounters with other horses in order to get a complete history. They could also inquire about the horse’s history of vaccinations and dewormings.

During a physical examination, the veterinarian listens to the animal’s heart, lungs, and abdominal gut sounds for abnormalities such hypermotility and checks for symptoms of dehydration (dry and sticky gums/mucous membranes, a visible skin tent, sunken eyes) (increased gut activity). Additionally, they should take the horse’s temperature to look for any feverish symptoms that could point to an infectious cause of the diarrhea.

It is possible to collect feces for bacterial culture and parasite egg count testing. Sand can be checked for in feces using a sample of them.

Your veterinarian may recommend additional diagnostic testing, such as bloodwork including a complete blood count and chemistry to look at your horse’s internal organ function, if there is a concern that your horse may have a systemic, or body-wide, infection or disease, condition causing the diarrhea.

Additionally, radiographs (x-rays) and ultrasounds may be recommended to check the intestines for any anomalies like thickening. Finding anomalies (such sand that has accumulated in the intestines) can be done very well with radiographs.

The veterinarian will most likely wish to undertake an endoscopic inspection, in which a scope is guided down the horse’s nostrils into the esophagus and stomach to evaluate any visible ulcerations, if the cause of the diarrhea is thought to be related to gastric ulcers and/or stress. This test must be conducted after fasting, and it is often carried out at a veterinary facility.

Horses’ Diarrhea Treatment


The best course of action will depend on the underlying cause of the diarrhea, the age of the horse, and how severe the symptoms are.

Probiotics or other gastrointestinal supplements, together with monitoring, may be used as treatment in mild cases. The majority of adult horses with diarrhea who don’t exhibit any other symptoms will return to normal in a day or two. If the injury is more severe, your horse might require intravenous (IV) fluids, anti-inflammatory medications, and electrolytes.

Treatment for Infectious Disease-Related Diarrhea

Coronavirus, Salmonella, Clostridium, and Potomac horse sickness are a few infectious causes of diarrhea. With dehydration, fever, and a sick horse that needs rapid veterinary care, these circumstances are likely to cause a severe sickness. Due to extreme dehydration, a significant portion of these horses need to be hospitalized and given intravenous fluids and electrolytes. As these illnesses are quite contagious, they should be kept apart from all other horses.

Treatment for Parasite-Related Diarrhea

A fecal examination is necessary to identify the type of worm present when diarrhea brought on by a parasitic infection is present. Once this is established, the vet will talk to you about the ideal deworming procedure for both current therapy and future prevention. Fecal testing can frequently be done at your neighborhood veterinary clinic or forwarded to the doctor’s preferred lab for testing.

The following worms can infect horses and give them diarrhea:

little redworms (Cyathastomes)

hefty redworms (Strongyles)


threadworms in the intestines (Strongyloides Westeri)




Your veterinarian can select the most advantageous deworming medicine and regimen based on the results of the fecal examination. As the gut recovers from the worm infestation, your veterinarian may also advise starting your horse on a digestive supplement or probiotic.

Treatment for Sand Accumulation-Related Diarrhea

Feeding a supplement like SandClear will probably be used to help the sand pass gradually as part of the treatment for diarrhea brought on by an accumulation of sand in the intestinal track. To ensure that the sand is dispersing with the recommended dosage, the veterinarian will probably wish to conduct follow-up exams. To avoid the horse from consuming sand in the future, different management may need to be established if the horse lives in a sandy environment.

Treatment for Gastric Ulcers and Stress-Related Diarrhea

Gastric ulcers are much more likely to form in stressed horses. Changes to the horse’s lifestyle, such as giving it additional time to graze in a pasture or using other turnout techniques, are frequently used to treat stress and ulcers. Some horses might also profit from being turned out with a pal or some playthings.

Other management adjustments can involve cutting back on the amount of grain fed, upping the amount of forage provided, or cutting down on the amount of time a horse spends without food.

Additionally, the veterinarian may advise the use of the ulcer-healing drug Gastrogard. Ulcergard or Gastrogard may be prescribed by the vet if your horse is prone to stress as a preventative precaution for ulcers during stressful situations, such as travel.

Treatment of Diarrhea Resulting from Dietary Change

The majority of the time, veterinarian care is not necessary for diarrhea brought on by a recent diet change. For the best chance of preventing diarrhea and changes in appetite, it is recommended to gradually introduce new foods or forage over a period of 7–14 days.

Treatment of Medication-Induced Diarrhea

Call your veterinarian right away before administering the next dose to a horse that experiences diarrhea while taking any kind of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medicine, such as Banamine (flunixin meglumine) or Bute (phenylbutazone). The administration of NSAIDs can cause right dorsal colitis in some horses. This may be serious and need for veterinarian attention.

Treatment for Horses with Other Causes of Diarrhea

Ingestion of toxins, neoplasia/cancer, or inflammatory bowel disease are some additional, less frequent causes of diarrhea in horses (IBD). Depending on the poison consumed and accompanying symptoms, the veterinarian will likely administer supportive care in the case of toxin ingestion. Neoplasia frequently requires supportive care and may be difficult to diagnose and treat. Inflammatory bowel disease in horses may be identified and treated with a particular diet, gastrointestinal supplements, and veterinary treatment to try to lessen the symptoms.

Recovery and Treatment for Horses’ Diarrhea
The original cause and degree of diarrhea determine recovery and management. In general, horses recover more quickly the earlier diarrhea is noticed and treatment is started.

The greatest potential for severe dehydration and danger of acquiring severe infections that can induce endotoxemia and colic are caused by infectious and parasitic agents. When intestinal bacteria die, toxins are released into the intestines and into the bloodstream, resulting in endotoxemia. Horses with endotoxemia face a serious risk to their lives.

Equine Diarrhoea Prevention

Always give horses high-quality feed, and ease them into any dietary adjustments. With your primary veterinarian, go over the deworming schedule and fecal egg count for your farm. In particular when traveling and competing, keep an eye on your horse’s stress level.

Horses who do appear to get diarrhea easily may benefit from taking a probiotic or GI support supplement, such as Arenus’ AssureGuard Gold or digestive aids from KER or Platinum Performance. These can support excellent gut health and assist in restoring the typical gut flora.

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