Hoof Nutrition Intelligence is a twice-a-month web segment that is designed to add to the education of footcare professionals when it comes to effectively feeding the hoof. The goal of this web-exclusive feature is to zero in on specific areas of hoof nutrition and avoid broad-based articles that simply look at the overall equine feeding situation.
Below you will find Part 2 of the latest question and answer installment that you can share with your footcare clients.
Q: Is there any correlation between a vitamin B deficiency and poor hoof quality?
By Eleanor M. Kellon, VMD
A: A horse on a heavily forage-based diet is unlikely to be deficient in B vitamins. On the other hand, it certainly isn’t far-fetched to suspect that poor hoof quality could sometimes be a marker of inadequate B vitamin intake.
Because of the high concentration of protein in the hoof wall, the B vitamins most involved in protein metabolism should probably get special attention. This includes biotin, pyridoxine, folic acid and B12. However, no evidence exists for B12 or folic acid deficiencies in horses. Because of folic acid’s key role in nitric oxide generation, it is critical for keeping the blood vessels open. I often supplement folic acid in insulin-resistant horses, but otherwise the B vitamin in that group with the least available information is pyridoxine.
The equine requirement for pyridoxine has never been established or even estimated, which makes it difficult for me to feel comfortable that it can be ignored. Supplementation with 100 to 200 mg per day of pyridoxine is conservative and reasonable. (As an aside, an early symptom of pyridoxine deficiency in humans is burning feet.)
Dr. Eleanor Kellon, a staff veterinary specialist for Uckele Health & Nutrition, has been an established authority in the field of equine nutrition for over 30 years. The owner of Equine Nutritional Solutions in Robesonia, Pa., she is a founding member and leader of the Equine Cushing’s and Insulin Resistance (ECIR) group, whose mission is to improve the welfare of horses with metabolic disorders via integration of research and real-life clinical experience. Prevention of laminitis is the group’s ultimate goal.
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Click here to read part 1 of the Sept. 1, 2020 installment of Hoof Nutrition Intelligence: Why do so many horses seem to be overweight and overfed?