When and Why Your Horse May Need Vitamin E
Vitamin E is an essential nutrient in an equine diet. This means that horses can not produce this themselves and must consume it through their diets. Some horses can quickly meet their Vitamin E requirement when grazing on a high-quality pasture. However, the levels of vitamin E drop rapidly when you feed hay. As a result, horses with decreased levels of vitamin E may develop several different conditions. Owners should keep an eye on their horse and contact their veterinarian if they have any questions regarding their health. Here are some things to look for if you suspect a vitamin E deficiency.
Signs your horse may have a Vitamin E deficiency
Typically, the first sign of a potential vitamin E deficiency is when your horses’ recovery time from an exercise is prolonged. Other symptoms can follow, such as;
- developing a dry or damaged coat
- eye problems
- muscle issues
- and even neurological problems
A dry or damaged coat is a clear sign of a Vitamin E deficiency. Characterized by patchy, dry, and inflamed fur, skin, or mane, is a signal to you that your horse could be suffering from low vitamin E.
Another great indicator of a vitamin E deficiency is damage to your horse's eyes. If you see brown pigment in their pupils, that is a warning sign. The damage will continue to worsen if left untreated.
Muscle pain, stiffness, or soreness is a warning sign that there is not enough oxygen being introduced to the muscles. This is due to a lack of vitamin E, which is the horse’s defense system against free radicals that attack the horse's immune system and hinder oxygen uptake.
Perhaps the most obvious sign that your horse is suffering from a vitamin deficiency is if it is having trouble balancing. When a horse can not stand or has trouble remaining upright, especially on its hind legs, it may be experiencing neurological disorders. One condition is Equine Degenerative Myeloencephalopathy, which affects a horse’s brain stem and leads to the necessitation of euthanization. Another, less severe example of a neurological problem is Equine Motor Neuron Disease, which will cause trembling, recumbency, low head carriage, and shifting of their weight between legs. These problems are avoidable when you include vitamin E in your horse's diet.
Why Do Horses Need Vitamin E?
Being one of two vitamins that horses can not produce in their bodies, vitamin E is a vital part of a horse's diet. Vitamin E is paramount in maintaining normal muscle function, aid in the prevention of muscular disease, and provide antioxidant protection to body tissue. Vitamin E is found in fresh, green forage in the pasture. Horses consuming and adequate amount of green pasturage are less likely to be found to have vitamin E deficiency. However, studies have shown that grass in most parts of the country contains zero vitamin E beginning in mid-October. Take these factors into consideration, and one quickly realizes that they need to help their horse maintain proper vitamin E levels.
What can you do?
The simplest way to correct a deficiency is to provide a diet with adequate levels of vitamin E. If you are questioning whether or not your horse is suffering from a deficiency, it is always prudent to contact your veterinarian. They can come out to evaluate your horse and do appropriate testing to see what they may need. Bloodwork can help you, and your veterinarian assess if your horse requires more vitamin E in their diet.
Health-E contains numerous benefits for your horse and is the most tested and highest potency vitamin E supplement on the American market. It is also tested to be low in sugar and carbohydrates, so it is safe to give to Cushing’s and insulin-resistant horses.