Consumption of sand and dirt by horses can cause chronic diarrhea, weight loss, and colic caused by irritation and obstruction of the gastrointestinal tract. Prevention has been primarily focused on changes in management to reduce the intake of sand resulting from feeding on the ground. Studies regarding the use of psyllium for the prevention of sand accumulation in clinically normal horses have not been published. A nutritional supplement combining probiotics, prebiotics, and psyllium was hypothesized to increase fecal sand output in clinically normal horses in a natural environment. A measured volume of feces was collected daily from eight clinically normal horses and screened for sand 1 week before and during 35 days of treatment with a supplement combining probiotics, prebiotics, and psyllium. Sand was isolated from feces using a flotation decanting method and was expressed in milligrams sand per gram of feces. Fecal sand output increased significantly (P < .01) by day 4 of supplementation and remained significantly increased through day 31 of the feeding trial. Daily supplementation with a probiotic, prebiotic, and psyllium supplement demonstrated enhanced fecal sand clearance in clinically normal horses. These results suggest that this product may be an effective prophylactic treatment for sand enteropathy and sand colic in which management alone is not sufficient to prevent intestinal sand accumulation. Further studies are needed to confirm the utility of this product in clearing sand from horses with naturally occurring sand impactions and enteropathy.
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