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Liver detoxification and drainage, the keys to a performing horse Logo PaskaCheval

The liver is the key to a horse's performance. It’s his factory for metabolising, filtering, eliminating... It’s a very busy organ. As a result, don’t wait until your horse’s liver is in distress to intervene and provide him with appropriate feed. Appropriate herbal supplements can also promote detoxification.

Do your horse look tired lately? Is he not in top condition? Yet, he has a well-balanced diet, you do not observe weight loss, or other more disturbing symptoms such as chronic fatigue, loss of appetite, or constipation... Be careful as the saying goes, “Prevention is better than cure”. Risky situations such as intensive training, a rich or possibly even too-rich diet, and the lactation phase in broodmares, can quickly saturate the liver. Result: it is important to relieve the strain on the horse’s liver at an upstream stage through monitoring and a balanced diet.

A horse’s liver: a factory for storing, filtering, draining...

The liver is truly a versatile “factory”. It stores, filters, detoxifies... It prevents nutrient deficiencies by storing vitamins, minerals and sugars. But above all, this organ filters and eliminates waste. The liver also detoxifies the blood by getting rid of molecules that are potentially harmful to the body. It “cleans” toxic components from the liver such as toxins from food sources or from a viral or bacterial source, or any other substance not metabolised by the body (drug residues, etc.).

It has other functions as well: the liver synthesises and produces most of the proteins used by the horse. It is also where certain digestive juices and substances that help digestion are manufactured. It also metabolises nutrients. A damaged liver may continue to function but with a lesion affecting more than ⅔, it would only provide a limited service.

Anatomical diagram of a horse's liver

What are the risky situations for the horse's liver?

The liver is certainly a useful and resistant organ but, above all, it is fragile. An unbalanced diet sometimes results in excess protein and excess starch. This is why it is important to feed your horse with a diet that is adapted to its physiological stage and level of physical activity. A “special breeding” feed given to a horse that does not need it can overload the liver. It is therefore important to pay attention to all kinds of failure. A poor-quality protein could be the cause of an injured liver. In addition, for protein intake it is important to adhere to both the qualitative aspect (essential amino acids) and the quantitative aspect (DCPH levels, MADC, digestible crude protein for horses).

If clinical signs appear, it is quite likely that there is already major liver damage. In cases of doubt, it is recommended to perform blood tests to determine the liver enzyme levels (GGT, ASAT, CPK). These enzymes are not specific to the liver but an increase in their levels in the blood may indicate liver damage.

What you need to know to improve liver function in horses

To support the liver, first and foremost, the diet must be better adapted. Make sure that the current diet is well-balanced. Modify it as needed to ensure that the protein and energy inputs are qualitatively and quantitatively consistent with the horse’s needs. Make sure you do not give the same diet to a broodmare at the end of gestation or the start of lactation. This would result in a deficiency for lactating broodmares (physiological stage) or an excess for pregnant broodmares. In all cases, the impact on liver function would be quite detrimental. Maintenance care given to a horse as well as during training meets the same requirements. Because when the horse’s needs are higher, the liver is solicited more.

Detoxification to support the liver

Even if the diet is properly adapted to the horses’ needs, it is important to support the liver when the physiological stage and/or activity results in significant needs. Supplements - based on known lipotropic factors such as choline, sorbitol and methionine - could make it easier to drain this organ. But it is also recommended to use plants with known virtues such as black radish and artichoke. Black radish contains a high amount of vitamins, including B-group vitamins as well as amino acids including cysteine​and methionine. They promote the secretion of bile.

Horse in a field

Artichoke helps the body assimilate useful fats. It also has choleretic and depurative properties. Not to mention its rich potassium and inulin content give it diuretic properties. Its fibres improve intestinal transit. Finally, the vitamins, minerals, fibres and antioxidant compounds of the plant help maintain proper liver function.

Although hepatic dysfunction is rare, be sure to protect your horse's liver as soon as its needs increase. Several solutions exist to support detoxification. ALGUA DIGEST, a Paskacheval solution, concentrates plant extracts and algae extracts that support liver function. Find this range at your nearest distributor.

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