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Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition

   Welcome to my forum. 

Here you will find more than 6 years of questions and my answers. It is searchable and offers a great deal of information. 

Currently, I am discontinuing new questions. This may change in the future, but in the meantime, please know that It has been a true pleasure serving you. 

Take a look at my Nutrition Library and Tips of the Month for a variety of answers on selected topics. Be sure to sign up for my monthly e-newsletter, Forage for Thought

I also have a growing number of recordings on "Teleseminars on Nutrition Topics that Concern You" as well as the new, Spotlight on Equine Nutrition Series -- printed versions of favorite teleseminars.

And finally, look for my articles in a variety of local publications and online newsletters, as well as the Horse Journal, where I am the Contributing Nutrition Editor.  


All the best,

 Dr. Getty 


Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition
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alterate feeding for heaves

My horse developed a real problem with heaves a few years ago, but it was never that bad. In June I moved her to my cousin's barn down the street and she's had really bad heaves. We've had all kinds of medications she's had to take. But I haven't really changed much. My vet told me last time she had a really bad case that she needs more fresh air like a fan, a different stall with a turnout maybe. But later that night she was fine. Now she's started again. So I've bought a stall mount fan holder and fan. I'm changing her bedding about once a week (still using shavings). And I've been looking at air purifiers to put in the barn. But hay seems to be the main issue that shows up. My mother had a horse with heaves, she fed her trotter, sweet feed, and once in a while she got 2nd cut hay. I'm not sure if I should put her on that diet the my mother used, exchange hay for the alfalfa cubes, or what. I just want to make sure she's going to have everything she needs. I don't want to cut out hay because I know horses need roughage. I thought I'd change her over to an all pellet diet kind of and just give her good hay when she's in her turnout so she'll have more fresh air too. What's the best for her?

Where are you from? cape cod mss

How did you locate this forum? i did a search for heaves info

Re: alterate feeding for heaves

Hi Cynthia,

Heaves are generally due to an allergic reaction and while there are ways to boost the immune system, the most effective way to treat this respiratory problem is to remove your horse from an indoor barn and allow her to be turned out on pasture 24/7.

If the hay you are feeding is dusty, you can wet it down to lessen the amount of dust. Or, feed dust-free hay cubes. Continue to feed the alfalfa cubes along with other hays (wetted down) since they will boost the overall nutrient value of her diet. She needs to be able to graze all day, so you are correct in her need for roughage.

A pelleted sweet feed is not necessary unless she needs extra calories to do work. And, even then, I prefer low-carbohydrate feeds that are more in tune with a horse’s natural digestive needs.

Go ahead and give her immune system a boost by supplementing her diet with fatty acids and fat soluble vitamins. I would recommend “Missing Link” (by Designing Health, Inc.) or “4 in 1” (by Med Vet Pharmaceuticals).

So, bottom line -- the more fresh air, the better. Please let me know how she progresses.

All the best,

Dr. Getty