This study demonstrated the use of ExcelEQ ProElite oil therapy and the effects it has on the gastrointestinal health of horses. Learning about horse gastrointestinal health is of extreme importance for horse owners and managers alike. Through the use of stall side fecal occult blood testing, Excel’s research team effectively determined positive findings to show the benefits of ExcelEQ ProElite in the gastrointestinal health of horses.
Background: Gastrointestinal Health of Horses
It is well known that most performance horses in training or competition suffer from discomfort caused by gastric ulceration. While stomach ulcers are readily identified via gastroscopy, hindgut conditions have been overlooked due to the difficulty of obtaining a definitive diagnosis. Recent research suggests that equine hindgut pathology is significant and potentially as common as stomach ulceration in horses.
A presumptive diagnosis of hindgut ulcers can be made on:
- clinical signs
- changes in blood work
- abdominal ultrasound
- more recently by the testing for occult blood in manure samples
The presence of blood in the manure can be helpful as an ancillary diagnostic test in horses to help identify a problem in the foregut, hindgut or both. To learn more about the foregut and the hindgut, visit our blog post, Equine Stomach Ulcers.
Equine Fecal Blood Testing
One commercially available fecal occult blood test, Succeed Equine Fecal Blood Test from Freedom Health LLC, combines a test for fecal hemoglobin with one for albumin. Detection of abnormal concentrations of fecal albumin and hemoglobin provide some guidance as to the existence of hindgut pathology. The most common sources of bleeding are within the gastrointestinal tract, specifically gastric ulceration or colonic ulceration.
Management for Hindgut Ulceration
The principle goals of treatment for hind gut ulceration include:
- avoidance of NSAIDS
- more frequent low bulk feedings
- reducing inflammation
- managing stress levels
Feeding Fatty Acids for Hindgut Ulceration
Omega-3 fatty acids are a popular feeding solution for gastrointestinal health because of its natural anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, the added fat calories from the oil allow for decrease sugar and starch content in the diet. ExcelEQ ProElite is a camelina plant-based product that provides excellent bio-availiabity of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation. Throughout the country, horse owners are using ExcelEQ ProElite specifically for management/prevention in horses gastrointestinal health. Now, it is time for us to prove the benefit of Excel’s camelina oil for gastrointestinal health through research and data collection.
Objective: ExcelEQ ProElite Therapy Benefits on Gastrointestinal Health
The objective of this study is to investigate the difference in fecal occult blood testing pre and post 30-day ExcelEQ ProElite trial.
Animal Involvement: Mature Horses
First, 6 adult horses were selected based on a positive fecal blood test (Succeed Equine Fecal Blood Test) with a concurrent negative fecal egg count. In addition to the positive blood fecal, horses had at least one addition clinical sign consistent with gastrointestinal ulceration prior to the start of the study.
Methods: Fecal Occult Blood Test
Succeed fecal occult blood test and baseline blood work including CBC and chemistry was performed at Day 0. Shortly after, a written survey (survey #1) was completed by a veterinarian indicating clinical signs and history of the horse. Next, ExcelEQ ProElite was supplemented in the feed at 4 ounces daily for 30 days starting at Day 1-Day 30. Throughout the trial, logs detailing administration and acceptability of the oil, and the horse’s feeding and training regime were maintained by the trainer/owner of each horse. Lastly, repeat fecal occult blood test, blood work (CBC and chemistry), and clinical response survey was performed at the conclusion of the 30-day ExcelEQ ProElite trial.
Example of a positive fecal albumin test
Example of a negative fecal albumin test
Results: ExcelEQ ProElite Benefits Gastrointestinal Health
According to the trainer/owner logs, all 6 horses completing the survey were amenable to eating the 4 ounces of ExcelEQ ProElite fed directly over and mixed in the feed. Of the 6 horses, 5 were fed the total amount of oil split into 2 ounces fed twice a day and 1 horse was fed the 4 ounces all at one feeding. Conclusively, 5 out of 6 horses showed significant improvement after 30 days of ExcelEQ ProElite supplementation.
“ProElite oil was supplemented in the feed at 4 ounces daily for 30 days starting at Day 1-Day 30.”
ExcelEQ ProElite: 5/6 Improved Blood Fecal Test
Of the 6 horses, 5 showed improvement in the blood fecal test and 1 horse showed no change in blood fecal test.
“5/6 horses went from positive fecal blood tests (albumin specifically) to negative fecal blood tests. ”
Discussion: Fecal Blood Test and Gastrointestinal Health
What does the Succeed Equine Fecal Blood Test Indicate?
The Succeed Equine Fecal Blood Test indicates bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract by measuring fecal hemoglobin and albumin. Detection of abnormal concentrations of fecal albumin and hemoglobin provides guidance to the existence of GI pathology in different ways.
What is Albumin?
Albumin is a protein that is free-floating in blood plasma. While it is present any time there is a bleeding injury, albumin may also release itself through smaller injuries that only seep plasma. This manner is consistent with hindgut’s “leaky gut” syndrome. Additionally, albumin digests with the aid of bile and proteolytic enzymes in the small intestine. As a result, albumin present in a horse’s feces is thought to primarily originate from the hindgut.
What is Hemoglobin?
A separate parameter noted in the fecal blood test measures hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is always present any time there is an injury that produces whole blood. While hemoglobin may be somewhat degraded in the digestive process, it is at a much lower rate than albumin. When bleeding occurs in a horse’s gut, some of the blood degrades, leaving the rest to move through the digestive tract until it expels through the horse’s feces. Therefore, hemoglobin in a horse’s feces could have originated from anywhere within the GI tract.
Positive Improvement in Gastrointestinal Tract
In this study, the intent was to choose horses with high fecal albumin as noted by a strong or a faint positive line on the Succeed Equine Fecal Blood Test. All horses were also required to have a negative fecal egg count as parasites in the digestive tract may alter the test results.
Although one cannot make a definitive diagnosis entirely based on positive fecal albumin, with the addition of clinical signs related to GI pain, there is a high likelihood of hindgut pathology. Results of this study showed a positive correlation and improvement in both fecal albumin and clinical signs related to each horse’s presenting complaints. They pulled blood work on each horse prior to the start and at the end of the trial. No significant results could be ascertained from the blood work alone.
Conclusion: Does ExcelEQ ProElite help with Gastrointestinal Upset?
5/6 horses went from positive fecal blood tests (albumin specifically) to negative fecal blood tests. In addition, all surveys noted improvement in clinical signs. In correlation with supplementation of ExcelEQ ProElite at a dosage of 4 ounces daily, signs showed improved fecal blood test results and resolution of clinical signs associated with GI upset.
About the Author
Dr. Julie Vargas dvm
Dr. Julie Vargas is a graduate of the University of Georgia, College of Veterinary Medicine. She completed a hospital and an ambulatory internship at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, KY before joining a sport horse practice in Wellington, FL. She completed her veterinary acupuncture certification at Chi Institute and her chiropractic/spinal manipulation certification at the Integrative Veterinary Medical Institute.
Dr. Vargas has a passion for equine sport horse medicine and strives to find the best outcome for her patients. Combining years of conventional veterinary medical practice with alternative, regenerative, and nutritional therapies- Dr. Vargas has found her calling. Currently, Dr. Vargas heads up the Sport Horse Medicine and Rehabilitation divisions of Spy Coast Farm in Lexington, Kentucky. She is also on faculty at Lincoln Memorial University Veterinary School.