The equine colon is the primary site of fibre digestion and water absorption. It is therefore not surprising that colitis and associated colonic dysfunction can result in severe nutritional derangements, which can be exacerbated by reduced feed intake in affected horses. Dietary management of colitis is important for optimum recovery. In broad terms, it should prioritise provision of nutrients to horses that otherwise have reduced appetites. In some forms, such as right dorsal colitis, as well as those with chronicity, nutritional recommendations include restricting or eliminating long-stem roughage from the diet and feeding a complete pelleted diet. Voluntary enteral nutrition is preferred, but horses that are not ingesting enough to meet the minimum recommended requirements as outlined, should be fed via nasogastric tube (if tolerated - no reflux, no ileus and no colic present; faecal output present). Parenteral nutrition may be necessary in some cases, as some colitis cases do not tolerate enteral feeding for reasons such as colic, intestinal dysmotility or abdominal distension. Timing and constitution of nutritional intervention is vital and should be tailored to the individual patient to prevent further complications of the disease process.
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