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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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Re: are paprika and flaxseeds safe?

Hello Mariana,

The active ingredient in most "color enhancers" is paprika and you can give your horse 1 tablespoon per day (15 ml) if he is a full-sized horse (approximately 500 kg).

Flaxseed meal is also excellent, not only for healthy hair but also for proper immune function, hormonal regulation, and reduced inflammation from exercise or aging joints. If you grind flaxseeds yourself, you'll need to do it daily, since they become rancid very easily. And, since flax is very high in phosphorus in relation to calcium, you'll want to make certain that your horse's diet has added calcium (such as from alfalfa). You may be able to find a commercial product, such as Nutra Flax, that adds a small amount of calcium to balance out this inverted ratio. Nutra Flax can be shipped internationally, so let me know if you have an interest.

To supplement flaxseed meal, fill a 120 ml container to provide 56 grams. Offer this much per 180 kg of body weight.

Finally, hair color is an indication of overall health. Your horse uses nutrients in order of priority -- the priority being to stay alive. So, whatever nutrients he has will first be used to keep his heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, etc. healthy to sustain life. Then, if he has nutrients remaining, he'll use them for his skin, hair, hooves, etc. So be certain to offer him a balanced diet. If he is only fed hay, he needs to have a comprehensive vitamin/mineral supplement to fill in any nutritional gaps. If he is receiving a commercially fortified feed, but is not receiving the full recommended serving, there, too, it will be necessary to supplement. Copper, in particular, needs to be provided but it must be balanced with other minerals so I do not recommend supplementing just copper.

Thanks so much for writing. I'm delighted that I was able to help you with another horse.

All the best,

Dr. Getty
Author of Feed Your Horse Like A Horse

Mariana Cremonte
Dear Dr. Getty,

I am from Argentina, I consulted you last year about feeding my horses, I have done what you said and they are great.

I have another question, my black colt fades a lot and looses his black color, even in winter. Coat color enhancer products are not available here or would cost a lot to have them shipped here. So I have read I could feed some paprika and flaxseed. My question is if those are safe to feed -for instance, heard flaxseed might cause hypothyroidism?-, and if so, in what amounts.
Is there something else I could do, nutrition wise, to keep his color?.

Thanks a lot! Muchas gracias!!

Where are you from? Bayfield, CO