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  • Q:

    Our yearling colt was diagnosed with left laryngeal hemiplegia following a bout with pneumonia. I am looking for anti-inflammatory and antioxidant support for help with nerve regeneration. Thoughts?

  • A:

    Laryngeal hemiplegia occurs when nerves serving the larynx are damaged, often inexplicably, leaving the larynx unable to function properly. The left side of the larynx is affected more frequently than the right. Most horses with unilateral laryngeal hemiplegia have a history of exercise intolerance and often make a noise during inspiration, described as a whistle or roar. Because of this, affected horses are sometimes referred to as “roarers.”

    A complete diet evaluation should be performed to ensure basic nutritional needs are being satisfied, especially adequate protein, vitamin, and mineral intake. Protein is especially important in bolstering and maintaining immune function.

    As you noted, targeted nutritional support should be implemented. Research shows that supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA and EPA, positively affect the local hormones and provide anti-inflammatory benefits. In particular, marine-derived sources of omega-3s have been shown to support the overall health of the respiratory tract and improve immunity. Kentucky Equine Research (KER) developed EO•3 deodorized fish oil to deliver high levels of omega-3s.

    In addition to omega-3s, antioxidant support from natural-source vitamin E will help fight free-radicals, improve immune function, and support nerve transmission. This colt may be on stall rest or on limited turnout, which significantly reduces the vitamin E available in the diet. Providing a supplemental maintenance dose of 1,000 IU/day is appropriate for horses without access to green grass. However, vitamin E supplementation for recovery from illness or nerve damage warrants a higher dose. The goal would be to provide high levels for approximately four weeks and then re-evaluate to see if a reduced or maintenance dose would be appropriate. Your veterinarian may have a dose in mind, but I suggest 5,000 IU (20 ml) natural-source vitamin E for the first few weeks.

    In looking for a vitamin E supplement, consider Nano•E, a liquid, natural-source vitamin E with superior bioavailability. A special delivery system, called nanodispersion, allows the vitamin E in Nano•E to be evenly dispersed in the gastrointestinal tract, facilitating rapid absorption into the bloodstream.

    Lastly, we recommend protecting the digestive tract of horses on antibiotics and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) by buffering the stomach and hindgut to reduce risk of ulcers and acidosis. RiteTrac is a total digestive tract supplement that provides active buffering ingredients and coating agents for the stomach, while providing a unique time-released buffer for the hindgut.

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