Psyllium for Horses – Feeding to Aid in Fecal Sand Clearance
Updated February 2, 2023
What is Psyllium Seed Husk?
Psyllium is a plant with a seed husk made of soluble fiber. It is the main ingredient in sand clearing supplements which are designed to aid in fecal sand output and prevent the build-up of sand in the colon.
What Does Psyllium Do for Horses?
Fed in small amounts daily, psyllium acts as more of a prebiotic, or source of food for the beneficial bacteria that live in the hindgut. However, when fed in larger amounts a few days in a row each month it acts as more of a sand purge.
Horses that graze in sandy paddocks and eat hay or grain from the ground may be at risk of ingesting sand. The build-up of sand in the horse’s digestive tract may lead to inflammation, diarrhea, or sand colic.
How to Feed Psyllium to Horses
Psyllium can be fed in different amounts and frequencies depending on your horse’s unique situation. When your goal is a sand purge, a dose of psyllium can be given to your horse daily for seven consecutive days out of a month.
Always read the product’s label for specific dosage instructions as psyllium seed husk supplements may differ in the amount you should feed your horse or pony. Psyllium supplements are available for purchase as pellets or powder in a pre-dosed, one-week supply or in bulk bags/buckets for feeding on a monthly basis.
Do You Wet Psyllium Husk for Horses?
You should not add water to psyllium-based products before feeding them to your horse. Wetting or soaking psyllium products poses a choking risk and causes this particular type of supplement to not work as well.
Psyllium is a soluble fiber that forms a sticky gel when it gets wet. This “sticky gel” is what physically traps and carries out of the body any sand that has built up in the colon. Ideally, we want the psyllium to get wet within the digestive tract of the horse and not before.
Encouraging Your Horse to Eat Psyllium Supplements
For picky eaters that may not be keen on clearing their feed tubs, here are some tips to help encourage your horse to eat their regular supplements as well as monthly psyllium sand purge:
Instead of wetting your horse’s grain to get powdered psyllium supplements to stick to it, try feeding pelleted psyllium supplements that are usually tastier and whose texture is better accepted by most horses.
Experiment with some different brands until you find one whose smell and flavor your horse likes – maybe an apple, molasses, or banana flavor will do the trick!
Research on Psyllium for Horses
Below are research studies and papers on the use of psyllium for reducing sand (and therefore sand colic and sand diarrhea) in horses:
- Evacuation of sand from the equine intestine with mineral oil, with and without psyllium. J Anim Physiol Anim Nutr (Berl). 2008
- Fecal Sand Clearance Is Enhanced with a Product Combining Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Psyllium in Clinically Normal Horses. AAEP Annual Convention – Orlando, 2007.
- Diarrhea associated with sand in the gastrointestinal tract of horses. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 1988
- Abdominal radiography in monitoring the resolution of sand accumulations from the large colon of horses treated medically. Equine Vet J. 2001
Article originally published May 15, 2013.