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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.

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All the best,

 Dr. Getty 


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

Dr. Getty,

I am currently a second year veterinary student. I am taking a course on Animal Nutrition and have been presented with a case that is stumping me and was wondering if I could get your thoughts on it. I have a 12 year old mare that is 5 months pregnant and has been diagnosed with cholangiohepatitis and choleliths. Upon ultrasound a thickened intestinal wall, small liver, and choleliths were present. My task is to identify nutrients of concern in this horse and chose a diet that would be appropriate for her situation. I have researched many texts but have seemed to hit a wall in finding much to support my thoughts. I fill sure that energy, fat and protein are some nutrients I should be concerned with but was wondering what your recommendations would be and perhaps a diet that could be recommended to the owner. I would greatly appreciate any insight you could provide. It would benefit my education substantially.


Where are you from? Raleigh, NC

How did you locate this forum? Web Search

Re: Cholangiohepatitis and Choleliths

Hello Jessica,

Thank you for writing. I expect you are administering antibiotic therapy to this mare, though her pregnancy may certainly complicate this treatment.

There are two nutritional goals I would focus on: First, reduce inflammation through the addition of anti-inflammatory nutrients (e.g., antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acids). I would be very cautious about adding oil to the diet that is high in omega 6 fatty acids since these will increase prostaglandin production, and hence, inflammation. There is a potent antioxidant preparation called PreOx that would be appropriate in this case.

The second consideration is electrolyte balance, in particular enough magnesium. This can generally be achieved by adding plain table salt to the diet, if PreOx were fed, for example, since PreOx already contains other electrolytes (zinc, copper, manganese) and there is plenty of potassium in forage. Additional magnesium can be added with a supplement called Quiessence. You'll want a 2 to 1 ratio of calcium to magnesium in the diet. So, an assessment of the total diet should be made before adding this mineral.

If the mare's owner would like further assistance with analyzing her diet, please feel free to have her contact me.

I hope this is helpful.

All the best,

Dr. Getty

Where are you from? Bayfield, CO