Of Breath Gas Study
Can high starch diets cause gas colic?
by S. Pratt, Dr. J.
S. Weese, M. Anderson and A. Lowe
Dietary starch is poorly digested by the equine small intestine. Rapid
fermentation of starch may lead to increased production of volatile fatty
acids, methane and hydrogen. Excessive production of these compounds may
cause digestive upset in the horse. Methane and hydrogen gasses are either
expelled as flatus or absorbed and expired via the lungs. It is possible
to collect and analyze the composition of these breath gasses.
This study was conducted to determine if dietary starch had an effect
on breath gasses in the horse. Horses were fed either a high or low starch
diet and breath gas samples were collected. Statistical analysis found
no significant effect of diet on breath gas composition. However, there
appeared to be a trend that the high starch diets lead to slightly higher
concentrations. The results also indicate a large variation between horses
(even on the same diet) which may suggest that some horses may be more
prone to fluctuations in gas production than others. Further research
is required to investigate this possibility.
This study was funded by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and
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Updated: October 2005.