Physiological Response of Normal Adult Horses to a Low-Residue Liquid Diet

Virginia A. Buechner-Maxwell, Francois Elvinger, Craig D. Thatcher, Micheal J. Murray, Nathanial A. White, Debbie K. Rooney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The anorexic or dysphagic adult horse often requires nutritional support. Providing nutrients by the enteral route is the safest and most economic choice, but the dietary options available for use in horses are somewhat limited. The objective of this study was to compare the physiologic response of normal horses with a low-residue liquid or normal diet over a 10-day feeding period. Two groups of 6 normal adult horses were maintained on 1 of 2 diets for a 10-day period. Diets were formulated to meet the caloric needs of a horse maintained in a stall. The control group was fed 70% timothy hay and 30% textured concentrate for the test period, and the experimental group received the low-residue liquid diet, similar to liquid nutritional formulas designed for human use. Clinical parameters, body weight, packed cell volume, total plasma solids, blood glucose, and serum electrolytes were recorded daily for each horse during the dietary trial period. On days 1, 5, and 10 of the study, a complete blood count, serum biochemical profile, and urinalysis were performed. Horses' serum total bilirubin concentration and pattern of weight loss differed between groups. All other physical parameters, blood chemistry, complete blood count, and urinalysis results remained within the normal reference interval for the horses regardless of diet, although some statistical differences were observed. Horses returned to pasture and free-choice grass diet without complications at the end of the dietary trial period. These results demonstrate that few differences of biologic significance were observed between horses being fed low-residue diet and horses receiving a normal diet of hay and grain over a 10-day period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)310-317
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Equine Veterinary Science
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Equine


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