Patty Lasko: Day 13

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The folks at SmartPak are offering today's tip at the 31-day fitness challenge. This tip involves vitamins for your horse, which seems particularly important to me in the wintertime. Related to this is the question of the pros and cons of preservatives in the feed we give our horses.

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In a past column for DT, Sarah Ralston, DVM, a dressage rider and nutrition expert at Rutgers University, explains that preservatives used in reputable horse feeds are generally recognized as safe and in amounts that are completely non-toxic. Preservatives serve a purpose, she reminds us. "They prevent or delay spoilage of the feed, allowing longer shelf life and a more wholesome product that contains what it says it contains. Most preservatives are antioxidants that prevent oxidation of vitamins such as A and E, which are rapidly destroyed by prolonged storage if preservatives are not used. Some preservatives inhibit mold, too. Individual horses might be allergic to a given preservative, though this is rare in my experience and not usually a major concern. If you buy a preservative-free horse feed, I would want assurance that it is absolutely fresh. I also would at least check it carefully for mold. Moldy feed, depending on the type of mold, can cause colic, exacerbate respiratory problems or even kill a horse. Many types of mold, especially the really lethal one found on moldy corn, are not easily seen. If feed is moldy, its nutritional value, especially its vitamin content, is reduced."

This is a good reminder. Feed safely and tune in for tomorrow's challenge tip.

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