Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Manure, Not Passing Enough

Code Red - Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours

Code Orange - Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours

Code Green - Contact Your Vet to Obtain Useful Advice & Resources

Code Red - Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours

  • If you notice signs of colic, along with this sign.

Code Orange - Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours

  • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) suggest the horse is otherwise normal.
  • If the problem persists over 24 hours.

Code Green - Contact Your Vet to Obtain Useful Advice & Resources

  • To discuss your equine's general health and management.
  • Even if the horse seems normal, it is best to start the conversation.
  • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) suggest the horse is otherwise normal.

Many factors affect the amount of manure production in horses. Generally, in a 24-hour period a horse will usually produce a predictable amount of manure, but manure production waxes and wanes. That said, anything obstructing the lower intestine (colon) can cause reduced manure production. If horses are ill for any other reason, they will often produce less manure than usual.

This observation often occurs as a result of a feed change, and can be associated with certain kinds of conditions that cause abdominal pain (colic). In some cases, it results from an intestinal blockage.

Keep in mind that horses that do not eat for a period of time will have a delay in their passage of manure.

WHAT TO DO

Assess your horse’s general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), paying particular attention to gut sounds, appetite and attitude, heart rate, gum color, heart rate and hydration by skin pinch. If your horse seems otherwise normal and hungry, you may simply want to discuss this finding with your vet.

Taken alone with no other sign of illness or abnormalities, the observation should not be cause for worry but it is worth monitoring. If your horse suddenly appears to not produce as much manure as usual, monitor them and watch for signs of illness or abdominal pain (colic).

However, if your horse is exhibiting any other signs of illness or you have other concern, talk to your vet about evaluating the horse. When the horse does finally pass manure, take note of it’s appearance. In cases of impaction, in which the manure stayed in the same place within the colon longer than normal, you may notice strands or a film of mucus on the manure.

WHAT YOUR VET DOES

If this is the only problem, and the horse seems otherwise normal, your vet may not evaluate the horse. If they do, they do a complete physical to assess general health. They try to rule our impaction of the lower gastro-intestinal tract using rectal exam and other diagnostics.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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