Ask the Vet – What supplements should every horse have?


SARAH: “What supplements
should every horse have?” What a question. DR LYDIA GRAY: I
did not write this and you did not
write this, right? SARAH: I did not write this. DR LYDIA GRAY: And I’m sure this
is the same place you went to, but when I get asked that– I get asked that a lot. And also, what is your horse on? I step back and think, well,
what is the horse getting? First, let’s–
well, forage first. So you said earlier, 1%
to 2% of the body weight in high quality forage. That’s got to be like the basis. And then you want to make sure
that, using the body condition scoring, that horse
is at an ideal weight, and that’s the calories and
the energy that you provide it. It might need to
be a grain or it might need to be alfalfa, beet
pulp, or fats, or something. Then you’ve got to
complete and balance the diet for the proteins or
the amino acids and the vitamins and minerals. And now you can begin
to think of, OK, next would be maybe
salt. Make sure– because there’s not a lot of
salt, unlike human feedstuffs– not a lot of salt
in horse feedstuffs. So you’ve got to provide that. And then I think
that, making sure that the omega-3 balance, amount
and balance is correct is next. And then and only
then do I begin to think about, now, so what
supplements should horses be on, in every horse? And also what problems does
my individual horse have, that there might be a
supplement that can support him? SARAH: But two that you just
mentioned, salt and omegas, there are a lot of supplements
that contain those. Because we know a lot of
horses’ diets are lacking. DR LYDIA GRAY: But
it’s interesting that they’re considered
sort of the base diet. SARAH: Yeah. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. SARAH: But still, it tends
to be a gap for some people, especially on the
salt one, where we think of it like people,
where it’s like, oh, you probably have too much. Not the same for horses. DR LYDIA GRAY: No, it’s
not the same at all. Yeah, I don’t know that they
have high blood pressure, so. So as far as what
every horse needs, I kind of think that
based on that wild horse, the mustang research, that
showed they have had joint distress even though they
were mustangs doing– they weren’t going to shows
and they weren’t jumping fences and doing canter pirouettes– so that tells me that every
horse needs some joint support. Because there’s just– just from
living, just from being alive. I mean, I’m not
an elite athlete. I know, shocking. But my joints hurt. So you know, I’m on
a joint supplement. So I kind of think I would reach
for a joint supplement first. I know my horse, when
I got him, he was four. He was not halter broken. And my friend– SARAH: I bet he was wild. DR LYDIA GRAY:
Yeah, a little bit. Actually knocked me
down a few times. But my friend who worked
for a supplement company gave me a new horse present. I don’t know what it’s called. But– SARAH: A horsewarming. DR LYDIA GRAY: A
horsewarming present. And it was a joint supplement. And so he is– He’s 17 now. And so he’s been on
one for 13 years. The other thing that
probably every horse, you should at least have
a conversation maybe with your veterinarian
about is vitamin E. Because unless your horse
is on fresh green pasture– so if your horse is
just eating hay– I’m almost positive that not
getting the amount of vitamin E that he needs per day. And then if you add
on work or exercise, that amount that’s
required goes up. So then, for sure. So I would probably
have a conversation or do some reading
about vitamin E and say, this is what my horse gets,
and this is what he needs, and what’s that gap? And so fill that in. And from there is when I
begin to look at the problems. There is a category that
I’m sort of torn between, which is the digestion. SARAH: That’s where I
thought you were going. DR LYDIA GRAY: Because
you’re like, well, every horse doesn’t
need digestion, except that horses in general
are pretty fragile creatures. Their microbiome,
or the bacteria that live in their
hindgut, they’re pretty fragile, as well. So any little change,
and they’re like, “Danger, Will Robinson.” So that, and the fact that
if there is some GI distress, it can be pretty serious. SARAH: Mhm, pretty quickly. DR LYDIA GRAY: Now I’ve talked
myself into, well, maybe every horse should be on a
digestive support supplement. SARAH: Especially
if you consider the risk factors for
digestive stress, which are things
like changes in hay, even if it’s a new cut
from the same field, can increase a horse’s risk
of digestive stress by, like, 10 times, research has said. DR LYDIA GRAY: And
grain, like, five times. SARAH: Yep. And then there’s things
like increased time spent in a stall, which whose
horses don’t encounter that? And so there’s so many things
that are really common risks. DR LYDIA GRAY: And that are
out of your control sometimes. SARAH: Yeah, absolutely,
that can increase the risk of digestive stress. DR LYDIA GRAY: So I think
we’ve talked ourselves around to adding digestive– SARAH: Yeah, it’s a good one. DR LYDIA GRAY:
–support to that. And now I come to the
individual problems. So you know, if your horse
has icky-looking hooves, or if the top line
needs developed. Or like this other
lady, the last question, her horse was like, I don’t want
an insect within a mile of me. You know, my horse doesn’t care. And so there’s supplements
for each of those issues. And that’s when
you begin to design your horse’s personal SmartPak
of supplements to address– find the solution to the
problem that you are having with your individual horse. SARAH: So I can give
a brief shout-out– because it is so hard to say a
blanket recommendation of this is what your horse
needs, that’s why we have a whole team
of stairs that you come every month to give
continuing education and training to. We have a team of Customer
Care supplement experts who are just a call or
click or even text away now, that you can reach out to. And they’ll walk through
all of those questions. They’re trained to help
you uncover problems that you may not have realized
that supplements could help with, or just really
understand your goals and help you with your horse. And if you are like me, a person
who would rather die than pick up the phone and
call someone with it, you can use the wizard
at, which walks you through the same
questions that can kind of help you uncover those areas of
support that your horse might benefit from. DR LYDIA GRAY:
They don’t need me. SARAH: I mean, well, you don’t
need a blanket recommendation, because you can get
a customized one. And it’s really easy. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. Perfect.


2 Responses

  1. Sutton M

    July 27, 2018 2:28 am

    Hi! I have an elderly horse who I love so so much and I was wondering how I can make life for him a bit more comfortable as he ages! He is a 28(?) year old appendix quarter horse. He is retired. He gets turned out (into our indoor area) every night with the other horses and is in his stall from maybe 9 till 3ish. We offen have young lesson kids work with him. No riding of course but he gets hand walk pretty much every day just a few laps around our property and we groom and bath him offen with the kids. He is quite skinny and is a sad sight. We feed him twice as much hay as most horses and he gets grain once a day an assortment of supplements. Still can’t seem to put weight on 🙁 any tips on fatting him up and making his life a little better would help so so much!


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