Interview with Dr. Dan Moore, ‘The Natural Vet’
Dr. Dan Moore graduated from Auburn University’s School of Veterinary Medicine and has formulated and marketed natural products for people, pets, and horses for over two decades. He has done business on the internet since 2001 providing products and became one of the first to offer question/answer services as a “virtual” vet.
For years, Dr. Dan owned and operated a chain of veterinarian clinics, but in 1995 a series of events in his life left him searching for answers to questions about traditional medicinal practices.
It was at this time that he engulfed himself in books and other studies to learn more about available natural or “holistic” approaches to use when treating animals- most often horses, dogs, and cats. Those countless hours of studies would help to formulate his knowledge of and his viewpoint about the state of health not only in regards to horses and pets, but people as well.
I know you’re a proponent of feeding horses naturally. What does that mean to you?
I believe the more natural a horse’s diet is, the better. Many commercial horse feeds contain hydrogenated fats (to keep the feed fresh) and this is bad for horses (and us!). Hydrogenated fats cause a thickening of the cells, which in turn, prevents the cells from responding to insulin and other metabolic reactions like more pliable cells would. Over time this ‘hydrogenation’ causes premature aging because more and more insulin must be produced causing the body’s cells to become more and more damaged.
However, it is essential that horses get good fats in their diet—omega’s 3, 6, and 9 (essential fatty acids). We have a product called Weight Check which contains no hydrogenated or processed fats which I highly recommend.
(To read an in-depth article about good vs. bad fats by Dr. Dan, click here.)
Another problem with many commercial feeds is that your horse will most likely not be able to get the proper amounts of vitamins and minerals he needs from them. Even though these feeds often contain added vitamins and minerals, the horse can only get them if you feed the exact amount of feed recommended by the manufacturer—which is quite a bit of feed.
I believe horses need free choice minerals and preferably from a natural source—such as Red Cal. Horses are not ‘lickers’ and should not be fed salt or mineral blocks. Free choice minerals are the best way to ensure they’re getting the micronutrients that they need.
Forage is most important in a horse’s diet, but since so many soils are deficient in critical micronutrients, feeding minerals free choice is crucial. I also like to feed oats since they are easy to balance with the minerals and don’t contain hydrogenated fats. We have another product with vitamins, minerals, and probiotics that is specifically designed to be fed with oats—it’s called Just Add Oats.
Why do you recommend feeding loose minerals free choice instead of in specific amounts?
Grass changes hour to hour and with the seasons and weather. Potassium and nitrogen levels in the grass can spike dangerously when grass is stressed and too much of these minerals in a short period of time can cause acidity in the gut leading to issues like colic.
Horses simply can’t get enough of what they need fast enough from a salt of mineral block. That’s why they need the free choice minerals.
As for feeding minerals in specific amounts, I once did this. By using hair analyses on horses, I balanced specific minerals for each horse. But subsequent hair analyses showed that even though we’d corrected some imbalances, other imbalances had developed. I decided to take a different approach. Rather than filling in deficiencies with custom rations, I wanted to let Mother Nature fill in the gaps. This is how Red Cal came about. When I started recommending (and feeding my own horses) Red Cal with oats, the problems and imbalances were corrected.
What is your opinion on herbal dewormers?
I believe both chemical and herbal dewormers have their place, but chemicals have been overused and to the detriment of our horses. I believe herbal dewormers are very important because they make the internal environment much less hospitable for worms. We have one called Worm Check. Diatomaceous Earth is a great adjunct for any deworming program, but I wouldn’t rely on it solely.
Giving an herbal product such as Worm Check three times in a row can be a very effective immune stimulant (it also can be great for EPM horses.)
What deworming guidelines do you recommend?
I believe all deworming should be based on fecal exams. As a general rule, fecals should be done two times a year for adult horses. If a horse continues to show positive egg counts in the fecals, I would check more regularly.
For horses under the age of two, I would do a fecal every two months. Younger horses are prone to roundworms, so it’s important to keep up with fecals to avoid impaction from these worms.
The type of the dewormer given should always depend on the type of worm egg present in the fecal exam.
(To read more about Dr. Dan’s approach to deworming, see this article.)
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I would like to add a little information about some of the skin issues we commonly see with horses today. The skin is the largest organ and when toxins are present in the body, they show up in the skin. Allergies, scratches, and even thrush are all examples of this.
When we apply topical agents for many of these ailments, we are interfering with the body’s natural process of getting rid of the toxins. I prefer to treat these issues nutritionally. Antioxidants will reduce toxins and clean the liver. Probiotics are very important, too.
Again, if you’re feeding a commercial feed with hydrogenated fats in it, the vital nutrients cannot get inside the cells. Feeding naturally, with free choice minerals will ensure a healthy horse.
To check out all of Dr. Dan’s products as well as to read his articles and blog, visit his website, The Natural Vet.