Effects of Bit Chewing on Gastric Emptying, Small Intestinal Transit, and Orocecal Transit Times in Clinically Normal Horses

Abstract

Ileus is a common life-threatening problem in horses, and currently available treatments may be ineffective. The purpose of this study was to determine whether bit chewing, a form of sham feeding, decreases the gastric emptying time (GET), small intestinal transit time (SITT), and total orocecal transit time (OCTT) in clinically normal horses in a prospective crossover study. Nine healthy horses were acclimated and fed a standardized diet. Following 24 h of fasting, self-contained video endoscopy capsules and acetaminophen were administered into the stomach via a nasogastric tube. Each horse underwent experimental (bit chewing for 20 min every 6 h) or control (no bit chewing) conditions, with a 3-week minimum washout period between conditions. The horses were enrolled in either part of the study until all video capsules were retrieved and/or 30 days lapsed. The video capsules were recovered from manure, and GET, SITT, and OCTT were determined from a video analysis. Bit chewing significantly decreased OCTT (p = 0.015) compared to the control conditions. Bit chewing decreased GET and SITT, but the differences were not significant. The mean (median) times determined via the video capsule analysis for the bit-chewing conditions were as follows: GET, 2.34 h (2.86 h); SITT, 3.22 h (3.65 h); and OCTT, 5.13 h (6.15 h), and for the control conditions, they were as follows: GET, 3.93 h (5 h); SITT, 3.79 h (4.4 h); and OCTT, 8.02 h (9.92 h). Bit chewing decreased OCTT in healthy horses. Because this segment of the gastrointestinal tract is frequently affected by ileus, bit chewing may be a safe and inexpensive intervention for that condition in horses. Further investigation in clinical patients with ileus is warranted.

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Citation
Patton, M.E.; Andrews, F.M.; Bogers, S.H.; Wong, D.; McKenzie, H.C., III; Werre, S.R.; Byron, C.R. Effects of Bit Chewing on Gastric Emptying, Small Intestinal Transit, and Orocecal Transit Times in Clinically Normal Horses. Animals 2023, 13, 2518.