Return to Website

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
This Forum is Locked
Magnesium and Enteroliths

I was wondering what your opinion is on the risks of Magnesium supplementation leading to enteroliths. I have had my horse on Quiessence for about a year now, because he is an easy keeper prone to stiffness. I haven't noticed a marked change in his weight/stiffness issues, but I figured it would be a decent preventive measure for possible insulin resistance down the road, and that it couldn't hurt.

In the last couple of days he has come down with a couple of minor bouts of colic. He's never colicked before in the five years I've known him. The vet has been out to see him and doesn't think he's impacted, so it's kind of mysterious. I've been looking online for recurrent colic and what it can be, and one thing that's come up is Enteroliths. Come to read that high Magnesium is thought to lead to them.

Otherwise he is on a diet of free-choice grass hay, complete pellets mixed at the feed store, beet pulp, a biotin/flax supplement and a basic joint supplement.

Anyway, I first heard of Quiessence from your website, so I thought you might have some light to shed on this matter. I'm probably just being paranoid, but I'd hate to think that my efforts to do what's best for him have led him to a serious condition.

Re: Magnesium and Enteroliths

Hello Kate,

Thank you so much for writing about this important subject.

Enteroliths are generally caused by a diet that causes the pH of the hind gut to become to high (alkaline). The presence of magnesium can also lead to enteroliths, when combined with high levels of phosphorus. Too much protein can also be problematic.

Genetics also plays a large role in the development of these stones. So, it's not just magnesium.

I have seen enteroliths in horses that are fed diets that contain more than half their forage from alfalfa. This is because of the high protein content of alfafa. Some alfalfa can be a wonderful addition to most horse diets, but too much can be problematic.

Quiessence is a magnesium supplement that is beneficial for those horses that need more due to insulin resistance or for nervous system issues. If the diet is high in alfalfa, it is best to cut back on this type of hay while feeding a magnesium supplement. Also, excess phosphorus can contribute to the dangerous mix, so bran should be eliminated from the diet, since it has a great deal of phosphorus (and very little calcium).

The other thing to consider is the amount of calcium in the diet. There should be more calcium than magnesium or at least an equal amount, but magnesium should not exceed calcium intake.

In a horse that is prone toward enteroliths, I like to recommend the following:

1. Cut down on alfalfa.
2. Eliminated bran
3. Exercise keeps the gastrointestinal tract in good shape.
4. Try to lower the pH of the hind gut either through adding some apple cider vinegar to the diet or, if the horse can tolerate it, a small amount of grain.
5. Keep fiber levels high to keep the intestines moving -- all the grass hay they want, plus, adding some psyllium to the diet for a few days each month, will also increase bulk.
6. Plenty of water, which is of special concern as the weather gets colder. Water supplies should be temperature controlled and not go below 50 degrees (Farenheit) so horses will drink enough.

I hope this is helpful ad that your horse is doing better.

All the best,

Dr. Getty

Where are you from? Bayfield, CO