• Open Access

Chronic Idiopathic Inflammatory Bowel Diseases of the Horse


Department of Large Animal Surgery and Medicine, Auburn University, Auburn, AL 36849–5522; e-mail: schumjo@vetmed.auburn.edu.


A review of reported cases of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) of horses for which no etiology was identified included cases of granulomatous enteritis (GE), multisystemic eosinophilic epitheliotropic disease (MEED), lymphocytic-plasmacytic enterocolitis (LPE), and idiopathic eosinophilic enterocolitis (EC). The terms EC and MEED were both used to describe a disease in horses characterized by infiltration of intestine and extraintestinal tissues with eosinophils. We use EC to describe IBD characterized by only intestinal infiltration by eosinophils. Horses with GE, MEED, or LPE are usually examined because of weight loss and depression, but horses with EC are usually examined because of signs of abdominal pain. Typically, horses with IBD have low concentrations of serumal proteins, especially albumin, and fail to adequately absorb glucose or xylose. Antemortem diagnosis of IBD can only be made by histologic examination of affected intestine. In some cases, antemortem diagnosis is made from histologic examination of rectal mucosa obtained by biopsy. Suspected causes of IBD in the horse include abnormal immune response to bacterial, viral, parasitic, or dietary antigens. Most horses with IBD do not survive, but horses with EC are more likely than those with LPE, MEED, or GE to respond to treatment. Successful treatments of horses with IBD include resection of grossly affected intestine and administration of corticosteroids.