Monday, April 26, 2010

Stressed Horses Need Special Feed

From travelling to illness to showing, there are a variety of factors that can cause an animal stress. Unlike many animals, a horse’s “fight or flight” instinct is primarily flight. Under stress, a horse’s endocrine glands flood his body with adrenaline and cortisol—the so-called “stress hormone” also present in humans—and his heart rate increases. While all that is happening on the inside, horses outwardly display a stressful state by swishing their tails, pawing the ground, bucking, kicking, biting, or fleeing the troubling factor altogether, according to Carey Williams, PhD. Stress is especially apparent in horses during times of: 

•Extreme competition 

Horses especially experience stress when they’re in training and competition. Unlike temporary stresses, training-related stressors occur throughout a horse’s lifetime. That’s because horses must process new information and adapt to new performance standards every time they’re asked to master new skills or perfect old ones. Additionally, their bodies are working, energy is being burned and nutrient stores are being taxed. During times of extreme stress, the body’s metabolic and immune efforts go to keeping the horse in “flight” mode, depleting the horse’s needed nutrients and weakening its immune system. The equine immune system is extremely complex. When everything is functioning in synchrony, the system works well. The problem is that many things can compromise the immune system, and when that happens, the horse is at an increased risk of developing disease. Often one (or more) of three key elements are at the root of the problem when the immune system becomes compromised, says Glen Gamble, DVM, of Riverton, Wyo. They are stress, nutrition, and age. Additionally, every part of the body that is not needed for the immediate “flight” response is shut down so the focus of energy can be on managing the flight. This includes digestion, liver function and even brain function. For acute stress, these functions shut down temporarily and return when the stressor is no longer affecting the animal. However, in long-term or chronic stress, the functions that are meant to only be temporarily inhibited are never fully allowed to recover. This poses a lot of long-term problems. 

Dynamite’s first line of defense for an animal undergoing stress is to address the gut. Since digestion is central to a horse’s health, we believe it is imperative to relax the gut, promote its normal function and encourage gut flora to bloom. Dyna-Pro™ is the ideal additive during any time of stress, short or long-term. Users report that after using Dyna-Pro, their horses have quicker recovery, including a return to eating and drinking. They also report that Dyna-Pro is incredibly useful on horses deeply affected by stress including times of colic. One main nutrient deficiency in many stressed horses is vitamin E. If deficient, horses can tie-up. If muscle cells are damaged, proteins such as creatine kinase (CK), aspartate transaminase (AST), and myoglobin leak into the horse’s blood. If muscle damage is severe, a large amount of myoglobin is excreted in the urine and, if horses are dehydrated, this can cause acute kidney failure. Vitamin E is a lipid-soluble, chain-breaking antioxidant that is essential for optimum function of the reproductive, muscular, circulatory, nervous, and immune systems. It protects against exercise-induced muscle damage and improves immune response. Vitamin E helps maintain membrane integrity, and it protects cell membranes from peroxidative damage. 

Two forms of vitamin E are primarily used in supplements: d-alpha tocopherol (natural) and dl-alpha tocopherol (synthetic). Though there is little separation in the names, the two are composed completely differently. Alpha-tocopherol is the most biologically active form of vitamin E, and its natural form consists of one isomer. In contrast, synthetic alpha-tocopherol contains eight different isomers, of which only one (about 12 percent of the synthetic molecule) is identical to natural vitamin E. The other seven isomers range in potency from 21 percent to 90 percent of natural d-alpha-tocopherol, said Jack Challem of nutrition Science News. Dynamite only uses natural d-Alpha-tocopherol. Before adding any additional supplements to a horse’s daily regimes, it is important to start with a quality base. For stressed horses, Dynamite recommends using Dynamite® for Horses or TNT™. These daily supplements contain synergistically balanced nutrient and mineral profiles perfect for horses eventing, high-level dressage, and endurance racing. Dynamite OxE Mega contains vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids, along with other immune-boosting antioxidants to help horses thrive under extreme stress. Dynamite’s proprietary blends of vitamin E and oligomeric proanthocyanadins help boost a horse’s immune system, helping it work through vital situations. Athletic horses in training generate high levels of free radicals, and benefit from E supplementation at higher levels. Vitamin E is an important cofactor for selenium absorption, and thus may assist in cases of tying up or muscular soreness. With all the goodness of Hiscorbadyne®, Super Stress™ is a must for animals enduring many forms of stress. Filled with OPCs, antioxidants, vitamin C, vitamin E, blood builders and specially chelated minerals, Super Stress gives animals the extra support they need. The latest research also shows one component very effective in prevention of chronic illness is resveratrol, a bioflavanoid, produced by some plants as a response to infection or injury, contained in Super Stress. It is commonly found in the skins of grapes. Resveratrol has been found to have antioxidant properties, inhibit carcinogenesis, have antithrombotic and anti-inflammatory properties, and increase longevity in human cells, and metazoans. Pre-clinical and clinical studies of this nontoxic compound suggest its usage can enhance prevention of many chronic illnesses, assist in protecting the cardiovascular system, aid in prevention and treatment of many cancers and promote longevity. Bioflavonoids act as an antioxidant, preventing vitamins and adrenaline from being oxidized by copper-containing enzymes. Bioflavonoids are sometimes referred to as Vitamin P. These components are important in reducing pain and symptoms associated with bleeding. They also act as natural anti-bacterial, promoting circulation, stimulating bile and lowering cholesterol while increasing the efficacy of Vitamin C.