Pica: your experience, input?/FINAL UPDATE (1st post)

texsuze
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Pica: your experience, input?/FINAL UPDATE (1st post)

Postby texsuze » Sun Jun 03, 2018 4:51 pm

In the last few weeks I've witnessed my coming 27 y.o. gelding eating dirt in the pasture. Recently, I caught him with a chunk of decayed wood hanging like a cigar from his mouth (from one the dying trees in the pasture). And this weekend, he managed to slice open a chunk of the inside of his mouth near the lip line, which I presume was due to his penchant for rock-crushing or his "I'm a lumberjack.." attitude. He does not crib, never has.

Apparently, pica isn't always due to nutritional deficiencies. Since my retiree is alone (since Feb 2014) I'm not ruling out a behavioral, or boredom origin to this. In a couple weeks, vet will be out to give vaccinations and to take a blood sample to check whatever it is that might provide clues to the problem.

My oldster's weight is really good (finally), his coat shiny, all shed out for the summer, UTD on dental work, appetite/thirst healthy, receives daily pasture turnout, and despite "old horse teeth" he manages to consume the fluff hay he gets back in the barn. Acquiring a buddy once again is not an option, so I'm almost hoping there is a fixable nutritional answer to his pica.

Anyone experience this in your horse? Did you remedy the problem with diet, change of feed, supplements, etc? I'd like to hear about some personal experiences, if any.

FINAL UPDATE: The "Equine Geriatric Profile Lg. Animal Panel, T4, CBC Std." results were all within normal limits. There was even a "new kidney test" called SDMA, which is apparently used to assess some level of kidney function--also normal.

And now: remainder of my oldster's bloodwork (mineral, vitamins) was normal. Everything looked good. I guess I should be thankful that from that standpoint my horse is healthy. Vet suggested I could go ahead and make a mineral block available to him, free-choice, as an alternative to 'putting his mouth on something else'. I asked about eating too many minerals and vet said that the salt in those blocks is a limiting factor, I guess meaning unlikely that my horse could ingest too many minerals from the block. So, off to the feed store today, and the hay man this week to hopefully get more fluffy hay. These old guys :roll:
Last edited by texsuze on Mon Jul 09, 2018 3:12 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Chisamba
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Re: Pica: your experience, input?

Postby Chisamba » Wed Jun 06, 2018 3:54 am

I've not had a Pica horse. I would go the two obvious routes first

I have found working my retirees is good for them. Though the cone, in hand walk poles, TOF, TOH, walk square halt back up, if a horse is sound enough to walk to dinner they can do all that.

Also, fat and shiny does not always mean enough vitamin or electrolytes. I'd consider vitamin/salts.

If I had a horse injuring himself I might consider a grazing muzzle

These suggestions are not based on experience

texsuze
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Re: Pica: your experience, input?

Postby texsuze » Thu Jun 07, 2018 9:35 pm

Thanks, Chis, I've thought about a grazing muzzle, too. I've always kept my horses slightly on the lean side, seeing plenty of fatties in this part of the state, so will need to evaluate the grazing muzzle in his case. Vet comes in a week's time, so I'm trying to hold off changing anything in his diet until I can get some tests performed, so as not to possibly skew results. I have salt blocks in all pastures, plus a brick in his feed pan, so am covered there.

When I had to retire my guy due to arthritic lameness I tried work in hand but he couldn't handle it comfortably. And although we have a pretty decent hike out to each of the summer pastures each morning, it is not managed work in that sense. Perhaps something to think about, now that I seem to have even less time in the day than I did when riding! Funny how that happens ;)

I'm hoping this is a fixable nutritional oversight on my part. Stay tuned.

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Re: Pica: your experience, input?

Postby Tsavo » Fri Jun 08, 2018 12:44 am

I'm standing there grazing my horse after working him and he starts licking a small patch of dirt. I immediately thought of this thread. He wasn't necessarily eating it just licking it maybe like something dropped there at some point. Never had I seen him do that before. I hope it doesn't develop into pica.

He has a slat block in his pasture and in his feed bin.

texsuze
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Re: Pica: your experience, input?

Postby texsuze » Thu Jun 14, 2018 7:57 pm

Vet was out this a.m. and we discussed pica. In his experience, the majority of the cases he's seen are behavior-related, not nutrition. That said, he took blood to send in for CBC and analysis of the most commonly found deficiencies (vit A, selenium, and some others). Some of the more detailed mineral analyses require skin samples, which I'm not ready to undertake at this point. It will be at least a week before results are in.

DH says he will cut down the old tree stump that my oldster is using for a Chic-O-Stick snack ;) and will remove the cuttings.

More later...

piedmontfields
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Re: Pica: your experience, input?

Postby piedmontfields » Fri Jun 15, 2018 1:30 am

Thanks for sharing. Please post the update, too!

tlkidding
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Re: Pica: your experience, input?

Postby tlkidding » Fri Jun 15, 2018 2:48 pm

texsuze wrote:I have salt blocks in all pastures, plus a brick in his feed pan, so am covered there.


If horses are salt deficient, the cannot lick a block enough to make up for the deficiency. They'd have to bite off chunks of the block. Add a tablespoon of iodized table salt to his feed or offer a pile of loose salt free-choice.

I leave a pile of loose salt on the back lip of my horse's corner feeder. I notice when he's in more work or during the winter, he definitely eats more salt than the rest of the year.
Last edited by tlkidding on Mon Jun 18, 2018 4:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

silk
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Re: Pica: your experience, input?

Postby silk » Sun Jun 17, 2018 8:34 pm

Often when horses are eating dirt and wood, they are low in copper.

texsuze
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Re: Pica: your experience, input?/FINAL UPDATE (1st post)

Postby texsuze » Mon Jul 09, 2018 3:14 pm

Final updates on lab work now posted at the bottom of my first post. Thanks for advice and input!


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