The effects of bit chewing on borborygmi, duodenal motility, and gastrointestinal transit time in clinically normal horses

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OBJECTIVE: To determine the influence of bit chewing on gastrointestinal transit in clinically normal horses. STUDY DESIGN: Prospective crossover designed study. ANIMALS: Six healthy adult horses. METHODS: Horses were assigned randomly to treatment (apple flavored bit) and control (no-bit) groups and studied for 2 × 1-week trial periods with a 2-week washout period between trials. Horses were fasted for 24 h and slowly refed over 3 days. The bit was placed for 20 min every 6 h. Duodenal contractions and borborygmi auscultations were evaluated every 12 h, approximately 5 min following bit placement. Gastrointestinal total transit time (GI TTT) was measured by administering 200 colored beads via stomach tube and then collected in the manure until 50% and 80% were recovered. Measured variables were compared using an ANOVA or Wilcoxon signed-rank test and the P value was noted. RESULTS: The GI TTT was shortened in the bit chewing group (median: 106.37 h, range: 70-171 h) compared to the no-bit group (median: 170.1 h, range: 149-186 h) (P = .0156) at 80% bead passage (only 4/6 horses passed 80%). Borborygmi (P = .8193), duodenal contractions (P = .2605), and 50% bead passage (P = .0781) showed no differences. CONCLUSION: Bit chewing was safe, inexpensive, and well tolerated. Bit chewing shortened GI TTT and might be an adjunct therapy to augment GI TTT. Further clinical studies are warranted. CLINICAL SIGNIFICANCE: Ileus is a common complication following equine abdominal surgery with no current consistently successful treatment. Bit chewing may be a simple and inexpensive way to augment progressive GI motility.

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Veterinary surgery : VS

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