Sunday, January 14, 2018

Winter 2017-18 PSSM Feed Regime

feeding a pssm 1 horse, feeding a sugar sensitive horse, PSSM1 Horse Jax
Jax, 2 months after diagnosis and proper management started,
Oct. 2016, Photography by Karin

UPDATE 2/27/18! I've found a supplement that has most of the things that I was supplementing separately below.  His new diet is:
  • 1 lb Renew Gold
  • .5 lb Beet Pulp
  • 1 cup Chia Seeds
  • 2 tbsp Salt
  • 2 tbsp Mag Ox
  • 2 tbsp Baking Soda
  • 4 oz Uckele Sport Horse Grass (new addition)
  • Will add Uckele Tri Amino if needed.
  • For now, canola oil has been removed, may add back if additional fat needed.

January 14, 2018 - So, this is a pretty big list of supplements and feeds lol.  Notice that many of them are single ingredients.  Basically, the Renew Gold is my base (it's not a ration balancer, and doesn't contain a full spectrum of vitamins/minerals), and I add ingredients that seem to help.  If I ever find a supplement that replaces these things with numbers that I like, my life may become a lot less complicated!

Notes about my supplements:
  • Mag Ox - There are many different types of magnesium.  I use mag ox as it seems to help and is very affordable.  At one point, I tried taking him off of the mag ox for about 2 weeks, and he became extremely spooky and started having mild spasms again.  Immediately after putting him back on the spasms stopped and after a week or so the spookiness started to subside. 
  • Baking Soda - some anecdotal evidence led me to try baking soda.  It's used on race horses that tie up (given as a "milk shake" in very high doses which is NOT recommended) and seems to prevent tying up and spasms.  Jax has not had any episodes since starting on baking soda, even with the small doses that I've given (between .5-1.5 tbsp).  He was in the middle of a two week episode (caused by abscessing hooves) when I started him on baking soda, and it quickly stopped the spasms (after abscesses blew) and he began exercising to a much higher level immediately after.  Here's a great link that has other minerals that are good for healthy hooves and healthy horses:
  • Vitamin E - many of these horses need higher doses of Vit E (up to 10,000 IU), but Jax gets spooky on anything over 4,000 IU, and does best around 2,000-3,000 IU. Currently, he is off Vit E, though he occasionally gets up to 2,000 IU just to make sure his levels don't decline.
  • B-12, VisionCalm, Baking soda - Jax seems to get touchy around his flanks and sides sometimes after an episode.  My reading has lead me to the conclusion of hindgut acidosis.  B vitamins are made in the hindgut and usually don't need supplemented, but my theory is that if the hindgut is compromised, the B vitamins may be lacking.   I started supplementing them any time he got a little touchy or spooky, but I now keep him on them full-time.  The baking soda (see notes above) seems to help the acidosis issue.

The most important thing to remember is that excessive sugar will cause P1 horses to store excess glycogen that they can't use which will lock up their muscles (especially if they're not in good physical shape - see my post PSSM Science, Theories, and Treatment Ideas).  Spring grass, sweet feeds, regular feeds (many feeds advertised as "Low NSC" are too high), and even some hays are too high in sugars to keep a P1 horse from having symptoms.  A good general guideline is to keep total NSC around 10% or lower (read also the article below about glycemic index); and they need an alternative energy source.

All PSSM horses are different, and therefore the diet/feeds/supplements that help each will be different as well.  Use this information to help guide your decisions, tweak amounts and products, and find the diet that works well for your horse.

It is estimated that about 50% of PSSM1 horses can be helped by diet alone.  Up to 90% of PSSM1 horses can lead a more "normal" life with proper diet and exercise. (REFERENCE: MSU/Dr. Valburg article on PSSM1).

Other things that I've tried with Jax, and have removed from his diet for various reasons:

  • Sweet Feed - unsure of brand, was the feed-of-choice at my boarding facility.  Jax lost weight, and became a hard keeper, so he was put on "grain".  He stayed a hard keeper, and eventually (after 2-3 years) started having PSSM symptoms.
  • Strategy Healthy Edge - 17% NSC - switched to this feed as it was the alternative to the sweet feed.  He did much better on this, but wouldn't come sound.  Still no diagnosis.
  • Alfalfa pellets/cubes - Started on these right before diagnosis.  He did well on these for about 4-5 months, then he started becoming very stiff and tight muscled.  I started feeding him before work, and realized he was having mild spasms about 30 minutes after eating alfalfa.  I'm not sure if he was reacting to high potassium levels, if he had a deficiency that was met and then amounts exceeded... I don't know why it stopped helping and started hurting him, but he can't tolerate any alfalfa now.
  • Alfalfa/Timothy cubes - before I realized that alfalfa didn't work (but I was starting to suspect problems) I tried these mixed cubes - he did terrible on this for the few days he was on it.  The brand I was using didn't have a guaranteed NSC, and I think I may have gotten a high NSC batch. 
  • ADM StayStrong 33 - He really seemed to do well on this feed, but it kept getting back ordered so I decided to try something that was in stock.
  • ADM Metabolic Pellets - He was never "amazing" on this feed, but it didn't seem to hurt and was good for mixing supplement.  Just like with alfalfa, he started having mild spasms after doing okay on this feed for 4-5 months.  
  • ADM Healthy-Glo - I tried this feed when Renew Gold was back ordered for a couple of weeks - it started out okay, but after about 3 weeks Jax was not doing well.  As soon as the Renew Gold came in, I picked up a bag and gave the rest of this away.  It's very similar to Renew Gold in that it's a rice bran and flax product, with high amounts of fat, but it doesn't have copra, and the NSC is 1% higher at 18%.  I don't know why he did so much worse on this, and why he does so well on the Renew Gold. 
  • AlCar or Acetyl L-Carnitine - used as an alternative to higher fat.  Jax did well on this for a couple of months, but when the weather turned cold it didn't seem to help and I took him off for a while.  When trying to add it back into his diet, he became spooky and not quite right, so I took him off and started adding fat instead.
  • Tie-By -  contains Vitamin E, L-Carnitine (not AlCar), chromium, and other ingredients to help tying up.  I tried this before I knew he was PSSM positive, as I suspected he could have a muscle issue.  It seemed to help.  After diagnosis I took him off after hearing that chromium may negatively impact PSSM1 horses.  However, I've since read that both Dr. Valburg and Dr. Valentine have stated that the amount of chromium in many of these products shouldn't be a problem, though I can't find a direct quote from either of them.
  • Uckele U-Balance Foundation - I really liked this supplement, and Jax did well on it (after initially snobbing it pretty hard - I had to work him up to 1/2 dose over about a months time).  I stopped using it because it apparently tasted really bad, and I had to grind it in my blender to get him to eat it (it's pelleted, couldn't find a powdered version).  I believe the copper is the taste issue, as he doesn't like the Uckele copper that I'm now using (though he does eat enough to get results, he still won't eat a full dose).  Foundation is a really nice supplement if your horse will eat it.

About the Artist:

horse artist, equine artist, PSSM horse
Since starting my art business in 2004, I have been on a roller coaster ride that's taken me from art, to house flipping, to legal assistant, to horse trainer, and a full 180* back to my artworks.

I'm thankful to get back to my art, and also for the life experiences I've gained.

Things in life that matter the most!  Jen, husband Jared, and Jax

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