Horses - Diet and Nutrition/recurrent uveitis
Hi Corlena, my 6 year old QH mare is just getting through a second bought of uveitis. I am just learning about this condition and will continue to work with our vet, but as it appears to be an immune-mediated condition, there is some support for ensuring the best possible nutrition/digestion. She is so healthy in every other way, do you have suggestions as to supplements to consider?
Thank you for sharing your expertise, Paula
Thank you for your question. Nutrition can play a role in immune response and is able to mediate inflammation response. To help boost your mare's immune system, consider feeding a Vitamin E and Selenium supplement. Because this vitamin and mineral combination has a synergistic affect on immune system, you will find them sold as one supplement. There are so many on the market that you shouldn't have trouble finding one, but one with an organic selenium source is probably best.
Feeding fat sources with a lower Omega 6 to Omega 3 fatty acid ratio (fats that are high in Omega 3 fatty acids) can help influence the duration and severity of inflammation responses in your horse's body. Fats with a 5:1 Omega 6:Omega 3 ratio are best...and Flax seed provides a ration closest to this. My recommendation is to use milled flax seed. It is inexpensive, easy to feed, palatable and contains all the benefits of flax seed without having to soak or further process it at home. One cup of milled flax per day (about 100g per day) is a good maintenance rate but in your horse's case I would recommend feeding 2-3 cups per day. You can overdo feeding fat and should never feed more than 10% fat in the total diet...but you are no where near that limit at 3 cups per day if you're not feeding any other feed sources. You will want to avoid feeding corn oil altogether as it's exceptionally high Omega 6:Omega 3 fatty acid ratio will actually aggravate the inflammatory response creating more and longer lasting inflammation. If you're feeding your mare a complete feed, ask the manufacturer if there is corn oil in it and if so, switch feeds.
I also like grape seed extract as a fast acting and natural anti-inflammatory and I think it would really help your mare during uveitis flare ups. She may not need it all the time and it can be quite costly but will be a great benefit when your mare is having a rough time. Basic Equine Nutrition, a Canadian company that you can order from directly, has a pure grape seed extract that I've often used. They will also have a Vitamin E/Selenium supplement and they make excellent grade ingredients.
I hope this helps, and keep in close contact with your vet because their help is also invaluable.