Dried Cabbage for GI Ulcers in Horses

For many years now, horse owners have been huge fans of our high quality dehydrated cabbage. We have talked to our customers about the reasons why dried cabbage is so popular with our four-legged friends and their owners. What we’ve learned is that adding dried cabbage to a horse’s feed may be part of the solution to preventing stomach ulcers. Dehydrated cabbage is high in the amino acid L-glutamine. Scientific research has shown that glutamine can help support a healthy supply of the intestinal mucosa that protects the GI tract from the stomach acid that causes ulcers.

Sadly, stomach and hindgut ulcers are common among horses today. It is thought that as many as 90% of horses will develop GI ulcers. In nature, horses graze up to 22 hours a day. Horses never stop producing stomach acid in part because they evolved while eating constantly. Feeding schedules, processed foods, stress, exercise, certain medications (particularly NSAIDs), and other factors can cause conditions that weaken the intestinal mucosa barrier and lead to ulcers.

More and more experts in the field of equine nutrition are recommending that horses return to a whole foods diet to protect them against ulcers. Now we’re not animal nutrition experts, but one of our customers is. BioStar, a leading producer of whole food supplements for horses and dogs, uses our dried cabbage in their Tum-Ease EQ supplement, which was formulated to support GI health in ulcer-prone horses. Tigger Montague, the Founder and Formulator at BioStar, says that it is “very important” for ulcer prone horses to eat whole foods because they do not increase stress on the GI tract as processed feeds do.

We have been supplying dried cabbage to BioStar for six years. Montague says BioStar chose Harmony House as their supplier because our bulk dried cabbage “actually looks like cabbage.” She said that was important to them because they “wanted to go with as close to a whole food as possible.”

Dehydration preserves the enzymes found in whole foods. Montague said, “We use dehydration in our own process so we are very familiar with it. All our bars are dehydrated, not cooked. So we get the raw food quality of dehydrated. All those enzymes in raw food are essential for digestion. Again less stress on the GI tract because digestive enzymes don’t have to work as hard.”

Reducing environmental stress is just as important to the process of preventing ulcers as reducing dietary stress. “Ulcers are a product of stress,” Montague said. “When its environment stresses a horse, this causes an increase in cortisol production which in turn increases the production of the stomach acid that causes ulcers.”

“A horse may not appear to be stressed outwardly,” she said. But appearances can be deceiving. “Horses are internalizers, and they are sensitive to the people around them and the atmosphere around them. Even something that affects their normal schedule like going out at a different time can cause a release of cortisol, and the stomach acid starts increasing. The more it increases, the more it has a chance to build and start to spill and splash on the mucosa.”

Along with a healthy diet, less stress and more rest are critical to keep a horse healthy. Montague says that dried cabbage is included in the Tum-Ease EQ supplement to provide glutamine, “for the body to use when it is at rest to heal irritated mucosa.” Medication is required to heal an ulcer once it has developed. But adding whole dehydrated foods that promote GI health to the diet can support a horse’s healing process. Montague said, “The body can only heal and repair when it is at rest. If the body is having to deal with processed feed, it is going to take it longer to break it down and try to utilize it, and that can leave the body less time to heal and repair.”

She went on to say, “What you put in your gut is going to influence how quickly the body can recover. If you give it a lot of junk, it is going to take longer. If you feed it real food, it is so bio-available that the GI tract is not stressed, and the body has time to fix things. That is how whole foods can become as much medicine as nutrition.”

If you do decide to add dehydrated cabbage to your horse’s diet, Montague recommends feeding no more than a quarter of a cup once or twice a day. That small of an amount works because “horses bodies are designed to take in small amounts of plants throughout the day.” She cautions that feeding more than that can cause gas. A little bit of dried cabbage can go a long way.

At Harmony House, we are dedicated to providing the highest quality dehydrated food to all of our customers, no matter how many legs they have. Rest assured that our dried cabbage, like all of our other dehydrated vegetables, is non-GMO and free of chemicals and pesticides.

For more information about whole-food nutrition for horses and dogs, visit BioStar Whole Food Supplements.

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