Updated on: November 19, 2020

You should be doing everything in your power to keep your horse healthy. And while regular checkups with your vet and proper diet and exercise are a must, you could always do more. One quick and simple way you can ensure optimal health for your animal is with a horse intolerance test from 5Strands.

The kit covers a wide variety of factors that could be affecting your horse’s health. These include food intolerance, environmental intolerance, nutrition, and the metals and minerals it may have difficulty processing.

To make sure this test was all it’s advertised to be, I used one on my parent’s horse (as a writer, I can’t quite afford my own). In this article, I’ll lay out what I found this test to include and let you know whether or not I thought it was worth the money.

Why Give Your Horse an Intolerance Test?

If your horse is showing certain clinical signs, such as skin issues, problems with its intestinal tract, heated hoofs, fungal infection, or respiratory system issues, and you’re certain it’s not due to an allergic reaction, it may be suffering from an intolerance. Unlike an allergic response, an intolerance can come in the form of countless symptoms and it’s generally more difficult to pinpoint their cause.

5Strands Horse Intolerance Test Review 1

While it’s possible to figure out if your animal is suffering from an intolerance through an elimination diet, this could take months. The process of slowly eliminating certain food items from your horse’s diet and seeing if its symptoms improve over the course of weeks is long and may never solve your animal’s issue. This is because the symptoms could also be due to items in their environment, nutritional issues, or exposure to other toxins, such as heavy metals.

With 5Strands Deluxe Equine Package, you can test for all these issues at once. So rather than going through the long and painstaking process of elimination diets and taking environmental avoidance strategies, you can find the likely cause of your animal’s symptoms simply by plucking a few of its hairs. And for less than $200, this is a rather affordable test option as well. 

Test Taking Steps

In order to take your horse intolerance test, follow these steps:

  1. Register your equine test kit at 5Strands.com
  1. Collect between 10 to 15 hairs from your horses tail, mane, or body
  1. Mail your test kit with the hair sample included back to the 5Strands processing center
  1. Wait for 7 to 10 days to receive your test results

The Competition

The market for at-home intolerance tests for horses is still rather small, but there is one notable competitor worth mentioning. Created by the pet testing company Hemopet, the Horse NutriScan test kit checks a small variety of different food intolerances.

While NutriScan only covers 22 different food items and doesn’t include environmental factors, nutrition, or metals and minerals like 5Strands does, its saliva test does tend to be more accurate. 

This test uses a rope to collect a saliva sample, then tests the saliva for IgA and IgM antibodies to deliver your results. Additionally, the Horse NutriScan test may even be covered by some pet insurances.

What the Test Covers

5Strands Horse Intolerance Test Review 2

5Strands Equine Deluxe Package covers intolerances to both environmental and dietary factors. Additionally, they can give you some insight into your horse’s nutrition and its ability to eliminate certain metals and minerals. We’ll cover each of these in a little more detail in the following sections. 

Food Intolerance 

Your test kit will tell you whether or not your horse is suffering from food reactions to over 150 different food items. Some of the horse feed ingredients covered in this test include barley, sugar beet, alfalfa, apples, dates, rye, wheat, preservatives, and common food additives. In your test results, your horse’s intolerance response will be measured in 3 levels, with a level 3 response being the most severe.

For any items that have a level 3 intolerance response, 5Strands will issue you a 6 to 8-week elimination diet guideline. This will help you to narrow down if the suspected offending diet item is the source of your horse’s intolerance symptoms.

Environmental Intolerance 

In the environmental intolerances portion of your test results, you’ll learn if your horse is having physical issues with any one of 100 different environmental items. The environmental items tested for include trees, grasses, essential oils, insects, and fabrics. 

Like the food portion of the test, the environmental intolerances are measured on a level of 1 to 3 based on your animal’s response after exposure. If your horse is suffering a level 3 intolerance to an environmental item, avoid the offending substance and see if their symptoms subside. 

Nutrition 

The nutrition test will let you know if your horse is having difficulty absorbing key vitamins and minerals from their horse feed or supplements. This portion of the test covers over 15 different nutritional items that your horse may have an issue with. 

The information provided in the nutrition section of your results can help you get to the root of an issue before your horse begins to show symptoms. By altering their diet early, you can help avoid symptoms such as weight loss, lameness, seizures, lethargy, muscle deterioration, and trembling. 

Metals and Minerals

If your horse is struggling to process or eliminate certain metals and minerals it’s consuming, this portion of the test will tell you which ones. The metals and minerals test covers 14 common items that could be lurking in your animal’s horse feed or being absorbed from elsewhere in its environment. 

Some of the problems that are associated with a horse’s inability to process certain metals and minerals include hair loss, hoof issues, dry coat, stiff gait, skin conditions, and muscle weakness. While these issues could take years to develop from metal toxicity, this portion of the test can help you to deal with metal and mineral issues much earlier.

Overview

5Strands Horse Intolerance Test Review 3

Pros

  • Covers 150+ food items, 100 environmental items, 15+ nutritional items, and 14 common metals and minerals
  • Painless and easy to take by simply supplying a hair sample
  • Can help you pinpoint the cause of a variety of negative symptoms, whether due to food, environment, nutrition, or metal toxicity
  • Quick results in 7 to 10 days
  • Food and environmental response results are broken up into 3 easy to understand levels

Cons

  • Doesn’t cover allergic reactions such as an adverse reaction to a food allergy. Allergic reactions require a more advanced blood test or skin prick test.
  • Not as accurate as a saliva or blood test
  • May not cover food items that your horse is reacting to

In the end, the Equine Deluxe package offers you quite a bit for an affordable price. For less than a couple of hundred dollars, you can get a range of test results covering everything from food and environmental intolerances to nutrition and metal toxicity issues. While the test is no replacement for regular checkups from a licensed vet, it is a good start when trying to narrow down any strange symptoms your horse may be displaying.

Joel is a writer with a passion for the science of DNA and the power of its manipulation.

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