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  • July 27, 2023 2 min read

    Have you ever noticed water running out of your horse's anus before, during, or after a poo? Well, if you have, chances are your horse may have Free Fecal Water (FFW) syndrome. FFW syndrome may be worrisome for horse owners, but it is a condition that can be managed, and treated! To find out how this condition can be treated, keep reading! 

    FFW syndrome is a condition in which a horse produces normal manure, but before, during, or after defecation water runs from its anus. The watery feces doesn't usually present a problem, but it can run down the horse's legs, which may cause skin irritation. FFW syndrome also occurs in horses that appear happy and healthy, and it isn't associated with any infectious disease. In fact, horses with FFW syndrome generally don't show any changes to their health and well-being. 

    Anecdotal reports suggest the cause of FFW syndrome in horses stems from poor dentition, stressful situations and environments, parasites, inflammatory bowl disease or colitis. It is also thought to be brought on by changes in pasture (for example, between seasons), or changes to hay. Interestingly, geldings and paints are at greater risk to developing FFW syndrome, as they generally fall further down the social hierarchy and tend to have more anxiety. 

    To treat FFW syndrome is relatively straightforward. Firstly, to prevent skin infections from developing due to watery feces, a barrier cream can be applied to the horse's legs. It is also important to keep these areas as clean and as dry as possible to prevent in skin infections. 

    Secondly, to help treat FFW syndrome, it is recommended to evaluate the type of forage and fibre your horse receives. Feeding fibre and forage that has a good water holding ability, such as grass forages and psyllium husk, will help aid gastrointestinal function. 

    It is also recommended to keep the starch content to a minimum, which is about 1 gram per kilogram of bodyweight per meal. For a 500kg horse, this means no more than 500g of starch (grain) per meal. Probiotics, supplements and fecal transplants may also be useful in horses with chronic FFW syndrome. 

    It is important to note, that if your horse does have FFW syndrome, and it doesn't improve with dietary changes, is chronic, or you are just unsure, it is best to consult with your vet. Your vet may take a fecal egg count, blood panels, or even conduct an endoscopy for your horse to determine the cause of its gut disturbance. 

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