Older Horse Weight Loss. When this happens in the digestive system, weight loss can result. From a decreased ability to chew because of poor teeth to a decline in the breakdown and absorption of proteins, and from a decreased ability to ferment fiber for energy and calories to a decline in the production of B vitamins, there can be a number of reasons why an older horse may be losing weight. It’s important to pay close attention to older horses especially, because changes (like weight loss) can happen rapidly. For example, Cushing’s Disease , a dysfunction of the pituitary gland, can rob a horse of his muscle-especially the topline and bottomline. Although fresh grass seems like the most natural diet for horses, it may no longer be the ideal source of roughage for the older horse needing to put weight on.
Topics › Rapid Weight Loss in Horse. Rapid Weight Loss in Horse. We have added some weight builder to his grain with no change and he is up to date on his deworming. The rapid weight loss you describe is very concerning so let’s make sure we’re on the same page. What is the body condition score (BCS) of each of your horses? What is the actual weight of each of your horses? Weight tapes are surprisingly accurate, especially when used by the same person in the same way each time. I recommend weighing your hay and grain to make sure he’s getting at least 2% of his body weight each day. I also recommend that you keep a journal of this horse’s BCS, weight, diet, preventive care and medical work to help you get to the bottom of this alarming issue. With luck you’ll find a trend that explains his weight loss.
Horse has no fever, no parasites, no depression, no long hair coat, and his teeth have been floated twice this year. Posted on Monday, Dec 3, 2012 - 4:05 am: Posted on Monday, Dec 3, 2012 - 4:19 am: He has had every test and was even in the UNC vet school study here. Posted on Monday, Dec 3, 2012 - 9:21 am: I tried other senior foods so I was hesitant and for whatever reason, this stopped the diarrhea. I wish you the best for you and your horse. We have a better article that the one in this section for your problem: Horse Advice.com » Diseases of Horses » Colic, Diarrhea, GI Tract » Weight Loss in Horses » Overview of Chronic Weight Loss. This article list the conditions that are responsible for diarrhea and chronic weight loss and a diagnostic paradigm to pursue it. Since the change he is drinking dramatically more water and his urine appears much clearer and more abundant. (Maybe that's the Purina Senior?) His diarrhea hasn't returned and his appetite and energy level have both improved. Posted on Monday, Dec 10, 2012 - 8:07 pm: Happy to hear that your horse is doing better after the dietary change! Full Service Members may post to this discussion and should address the orignial poster's concerns or other information posted here. Use the navigation bar at the top of this page to return to the parent article and review the article and existing discussions.
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You are here: Home / Horse Health / Care of the Older Horse / Caring for Older Horses in Winter. Due to advances in nutrition, veterinary medicine and the management practices of horse owners, horses like us are living longer. Q: What are the best types of hay for older horses? The best types of hay for older horses with declining teeth condition are softer immature hays such as many pasture hays and some legume hay. If you grab it and it is soft on your hands it is high in digestible fibre and will be suitable for the horse. If it is hard on your hands it will be high in indigestible fibre and will not be as beneficial to the older horse. Adding fat to a horse’s diet can be of great benefit as the older horse still digests fat quite well. In very old horses, the teeth can become so worn that they are practically nonexistent. A common and effective way of getting food into the older horse with little or no teeth is to feed a mash. Q: How often should I get the older horse’s teeth checked? Needless to say, the older horse’s teeth should be checked at least twice a year, and floated (rasped) as necessary. Q: Are there specially formulated rations for the older horse?
Why Horses Lose Weight. Learn Why Horses Lose Weight and What You Can Do About It. Even when there seems to be a lot of pasture grass to eat, horses can lose weight during the summer months. Over the years I’ve owned a number of horses that were hard to keep weight on. If you have a horse that just isn’t putting on, or maintaining a healthy weight, here are some reasons and what to do. The most obvious reason a horse may lose weight is because it is not eating enough. It’s not unusual for horses in the summer months to lose weight. In addition to protection from the heat of the day, and the bites of the mosquitoes and other flies, horses that have problems keeping weight on in summer could benefit from extra feed, whether it’s good-quality hay in the barn where it can relax and eat without fretting at the bugs, or a concentrate or supplement to help put on weight. The best way to keep your horse warm and at a healthy weight is to offer lots of good-quality hay. The most common reason for weight loss in older horses is dental problems . Even if they haven’t fallen out, they may have sharp edges and hooks that make it difficult and painful for the horse to chew its food efficiently. Many horses in the prime of their lives can have dental problems that interfere with chewing. This can lead to weight loss simply because the horse that is being bullied can’t get enough to eat in addition to being stressed. The first step to discovering the cause of the weight loss is to determine exactly how much the horse is eating. If after increasing the feed and being sure the horse is dewormed, there is no improvement you may need to consult a veterinarian about checking the horse’s teeth.
The first factor that should be checked when assessing causes for weight loss is the condition of their teeth. High grain, low roughage diets can also cause stress as a result of gastric ulcers that are painful to the horses and may discourage them from eating. Disease or illness can also interfere with weight gain either by decreasing the horse’s appetite or by directly affecting nutrient absorption within the digestive tract. If all these can be eliminated and your horse is still not putting on weight, the next step is to evaluate your horses’ diet. Fibre: Of the three major energy sources (fibre, carbohydrates and fat) for the horse, fibre is the most important. For the poor doer, however, fibre alone will not maintain weight, but there are fibre sources with higher energy content and digestibility than others. When comparing the energy content of lucerne and grass hays, lucerne hay can provide a horse with more energy than grass hay of similar quality. While grain is a concentrated source of energy for the horse, there are some complications with feeding large quantities. When trying to get a thin horse to gain weight, it is often tempting to keep increasing the amount of grain being fed. Make sure the horse is always getting at least 1.5 to 2% of their body weight in the form of fibre and a good rule of thumb is to try and stick to a roughage to grain ratio of around 70:30. Research has indicated that adding 5 to 10% fat to the total diet has maintained the body weight of horses with a 21 to 25% decrease in concentrate intake. Adding fat to a horse’s diet permits safe weight gain while reducing the chance of colic or founder. Thin horses will gain weight and do so without having to eat as much grain if the diet is fortified with additional fat. After addressing all possible causes for the horse’s weight loss, increasing the amount and quality of fibre the horse is receiving should be the first dietary change made, followed by increasing the energy density of the concentrate portion of the ration.
It’s not always easy to find the cause of weight loss and correct the problem. Even when good pasture and hay are available, a significant increase in exercise level or duration may use more calories than the horse is taking in. Watching the horse eat may reveal more clues to weight loss such as difficulty in grasping, chewing or swallowing hay or grain. When these conditions are resolved by management and care changes, the weight loss problem also should resolve. If the horse is eating well and is still losing weight, a veterinarian may suspect that the problem involves abnormal digestion and absorption of nutrients or a defect in the way nutrients are delivered to the body tissues. If the cardiovascular or respiratory systems are not working properly, nutrients and oxygen may not be delivered to all parts of the body, and this can result in horses losing weight. These conditions can cause a progressive loss of muscle tissue and mass, even when the horse is eating well. Horses that have some chronic skin disorders or are recovering from severe streptococcal infections may also show some weight loss because they are losing protein and energy faster than they can consume them. Weight may vary somewhat by season and exercise program, but any horse that shows unexpected weight loss should be examined to find the cause and fix the problem before it becomes severe.
The common physiological causes of weight loss include: And weight loss results if dietary adjustments are not make. Weight loss is most commonly associated with one or more of the. Can lead to reduced food intake and loss of weight. Associated with weight loss. Some of the weight loss is. Can occupy the stomach in large numbers, and are potentials for. Associated weight loss is usually associated with chronic. The malabsorption and. Weight loss is most likely due to parasitism of the large. Maldigestion and malabsorption contribute to the weight loss. Of the weight loss encountered. Accelerated loss of nutrients in the urine and a markedly reduced. Include depression, anorexia, and P/U and P/D with weight loss. 2) The weight loss is not only due to severe metabolic.
An older horse faces the same situations as senior humans. The horse might become swayback. Whatever the reason behind the weight loss, simple changes combined with a visit from the vet will fatten the horse up and make it more comfortable. Whole grain pieces become visible in the horse's manure as a result and signals the horse's need to see the equine dentist. The equine dentist will file down-called floating-the horse's teeth with a rasp. Set up an appointment with your local dentist if the horse seems uncomfortable or in pain when eating. Eating slowly or without relish may also indicate a problem with the horse's teeth. As age wears down a horse's teeth, grain and hay become hard for the horse to eat. Senior horse feed contains nutrients geared toward older horses. If you suspect this may be your horse's problem, call your veterinarian to confirm the problem and follow her recommendations for substitutes such as hay cubes. Pain can cause a horse to lose weight and even to stop eating completely. The pain can originate from old injuries and arthritis. Call a veterinarian to check for any physical cause, and follow the directions given by the veterinarian to alleviate the pain.
Following a year of rehabilitation after losing the use of his left side, he is living a normal life again and is able to walk, trot, canter, and play in the pasture with the other horses. Currently I have him eating 4 3/4 pounds of senior feed morning and night (with about 10-12 hours between the feedings), a scoop of comprehensive wellness supplement twice a day in his feed, and all the timothy hay he wants to eat. We make sure that my horse has everything that he needs to live a comfortable life, but is there anything else I should discuss with my veterinarian about Bert's weight, or do you have any other recommendations to try? First of all, kudos to you and your veterinarian for giving Bert the opportunities he needs to live a full and comfortable life. However, I do think there are a few changes you could make to your geriatric horse's diet to improve his body condition. You can begin with one to two ounces of corn oil per meal to see if your horse will eat his feed with the added oil, and if he finds it tasty, you can work up to two cups per day. Don't give the oil by syringe if he does not like it; instead you can try another type of oil, although research shows that horses prefer corn oil to other types. Another fat source that horses often like is rice bran, which comes in powdered or pelleted form and can be mixed in with the grain. In addition to adding a fat source, you can increase your horse's senior feed ration. As you know, good dental care for the geriatric horse is essential, and ideally he should have his teeth checked every six months. If he is not actually consuming his hay, you will need to supply all of his nutrition with senior feed and the added oil.
Home › Ask the Vet › Weight Management › Rapid Weight Loss in Horse. Rapid Weight Loss in Horse. We had been maintaining her weight. First I recommend you schedule your veterinarian to come back out and see her. If so, I hope you’re feeding her more than 3-4 lbs twice a day of it. Most complete feeds need to be given in the range of 12-18 pounds total per day since they are providing both the hay and the grain for the horse. Read the label on the bag and work with your veterinarian to make sure you’re feeding this product correctly then consider supplementing her diet with alfalfa cubes or pellets, fortified rice bran, molasses-free beet pulp, or specific weight gain supplements that include fat, amino acids, probiotics and other ingredients.
I actually tried that this weekend, thinking something might be off in the grass that he didn't like, but he refused to eat the hay and I was afraid to let him be w/o roughage for too long. I had a horse on that once and it helped him as well; when/if we get Scrappy stabilized and get the diarrhea stopped, I will probably put him on it, too. She was shiny coated but thin and I just could not get the weight on her. I asked about salmonella, and he said they would check, but with the other horses being fine, he felt it was unlikely. I asked him about salmonella since so many people here had suggested it (and we do have a pond with many rescued turtles in it!), but he felt that if it was that, the other horses would also show symptoms. I will definitely keep this in mind and ask the vet if this is something we can test for or treat for just in case. This vet is the best in the area, ALWAYS responsive and this behavior is not at all typical for him. This is the horse that was treated with the fecal transplant. Hope that's not the case for you. It doesn't sound exactly the same as what you have going on, but I sure did try just about everything for the diarrhea and nothing helped until they took out those rocks! Back then, we could get a pellet called alfa-oats that was nothing but oatmeal and alfalfa meal with something to balance the alfalfa. You did the right thing when you had to, and now he is no longer struggling. You made the hardest decision, but it was for his sake, and not yours. Remember the day of happy grazing, and remember that you did everything you knew to do.
Weight Loss in Horses. The identification of a thin horse is usually not difficult-the horse's owner, stable manager, and veterinarian can clearly see that a horse is underweight. Additionally, determination of a horse's ideal weight depends on the breed of horse and intended use. There are three main causes of unplanned weight loss: Malnutrition, parasitism, and dental problems. Each horse might be fed appropriate amounts of hay and grain for his body weight, but the Quarter Horse might be eating his intended (smaller) meal and chasing the Thoroughbred away from his much-needed meal. Dental problems can limit the horse's chewing efficiency, making digestion incomplete. The presence of broken, loose, or infected teeth can make chewing so painful that the horse stops eating. There are many other causes of weight loss in horses, including kidney and liver disease, endocrine problems, inability of the intestines to absorb nutrients (malabsorption), chronic infection, gastric ulcers, presence of intestinal sand, and internal tumors. In general, addressing the "Big 3" causes of weight loss is a good place to start. An evaluation of the hay and grain as well as management and stabling methods might reveal problems contributing to the horse's weight loss. The veterinarian can evaluate the horse for sharp enamel points, loose or broken teeth, foul mouth odor (a sign of a possible rotten tooth), and infected gingiva or teeth.
In the article below we describe how we used three different horses to test two common methods of estimating horse weight: 1) by using a height/weight tape and 2) by performing a common weight calculation. Probably the most common method people use to estimate their horse's weight these days is to use a height/weight tape . To use one of these tapes you simply put the tape around the horse's girth (aka "heart girth") and read the estimated weight on the tape. Another way to estimate a horse's weight is to use a "regular" tape measure - the kind that measures in inches - to measure a horse's girth and length. If a horse's heart girth was 78" and his length was 65", the calculation would be: How to take the measurements for the weight calculation: The three horses below were measured, and their estimated weight was calculated, according to the illustrations and instructions above. In our experiment neither the height/weight tape nor the weight calculation estimated the horses' weights with total accuracy compared to their weights on a scale. Between the height/weight tape and measuring for the calculation, the height/weight tape was far easier to use. It was very simple for one person to put the height/weight tape around the horses' heart girth and read the estimated weight. Measuring the horses' length for the weight calculation, though, was not quite as easy. So.we slightly prefer the height/weight tape to the weight calculation.
Managing the Changing Needs of Older Horses. But with me, the new groom, Convoy made it clear that he didn't like his back brushed, he didn't want to take his medicine, and he didn't want to be bothered by the younger horses around the barn. Possibly the most common and easily overlooked cause of malnutrition or weight loss in old horses is tooth loss or dental damage. "Once you reach the point when the teeth are already loose and the horses have dental disease, those problems can't be corrected, and you end up pulling the tooth," he says. "If older horses take in and absorb more calcium than they need," says Ralston, "it will have to be excreted through the kidneys. "Senior feeds help the older horse absorb his protein and carbohydrates better," says Kellon. "Soaking the feed reduces the chance that the horses will choke, and it gets extra water into them." Geriatric horses tend to be more susceptible to infections, abscesses and other ailments than younger horses living under the same conditions. The study suggests that older horses can't handle the combined demand of exercise and heat as well as younger horses." Harmonious social dynamics in the field are a great boon to an aging horse's health and attitude. Pushy younger horses can deprive him of the basic creature comforts, including food, shade and shelter. "One of the biggest mistakes is to turn the geriatric horse loose with a bunch of horses and figure that he'll be okay," says Kellon. Maintaining a horse's soundness can be difficult at any age, but geriatric animals have the added burden of years of wear and slow, insidious orthopedic damage that often catches up with them later in life. Your veterinarian can assess the horse's condition and prescribe appropriate treatments.
Is your horse the Right Weight? Can you tell if your horse is the right weight? We can help you learn how to assess your horse's condition as well as providing practical tips for weight loss and management. Watch our video (below in three sections) and read our 10 top tips beneath to find out how to manage your horse's weight. Ten Top Tops for managing your horse's weight. With so many different factors affecting your horse’s weight it’s difficult to know what you are aiming for. Find out if your horse is overweight. Watch the videos above or contact us for a free copy on DVD that will show you how to correctly fat score your horse. Ask an expert whether you are feeding your horse appropriately. This can be very confusing, which makes it easy to feed your horse more calories than they really need. Consider if your horse really does need a rug. If your horse is overweight consider whether it could go without a rug or if a lighter weight one would be more suitable. Consider what your horse needs and remember that it might be different to what other horses. Monitor your horse. Horses can put on weight very quickly so fat scoring and weightaping your horse fortnightly will help you spot any changes more quickly than you could by eye.
You are here: Home > Chronic Weight Loss in Horses. Chronic Weight Loss in Horses. Weight loss is simply a result of more calories being used by the body than are being consumed. Remarkably, horses can survive chronic weight loss. Poor Quality or Limited Feed –Probably the most common cause of weight loss is poor quality or limited feed. Dental problems are a significant cause of weight loss in horses. Internal parasites, such as worms, compete with the horses’ body for nutrients and often result in weight loss. A number of other diseases and chronic health problems can result in weight loss. In order for horses to recover from the disease and gain weight, the disease or health issue must first be treated and resolved. Before any nutritional intervention is imposed, a proper estimate of the horse’s body weight and body condition score is needed. Once you have identified the cause of the chronic weight loss in the horse it is time to begin implementing feeding strategies to enhance weight gain. The question then becomes “what should I feed my horse for weight gain?” Thin horses will gain weight and do so without having to eat as much grain if the diet is fortified with additional fat.
Loss of body condition may be the result of more than one type of change. The senior horse may need additional a high quality protein source containing the essential amino acids lysine, methionine and threonine, the first 3 limiting amino acids, to rebuild muscle mass. The loss of muscle mass may also be accompanied by dull hair coat and loss of hoof quality. The change in hair coat and hoof quality may also be associated with a deficiency of key trace minerals in the diet as well as key vitamins. Changes in body condition, muscle mass, hair coat and hoof quality may all indicate the need for dietary changes.
They upped his feed and he's eating more (he gets 8-9 flakes of hay and eats 7 or so and grain- I'm not certain on the details.) They tested him for worms and thought it looked fine. Had the same experience with my old mare, age 25, though she was spreading her hay around and not getting it all eaten and had a mild bout or two of impaction colic. Our vet says she notices more old horses losing weight in the summer, when the weather is hot and the flies are bad, than in winter some years. Last fall we had the old guy's teeth done and dewormed him and he actually gained weight over the winter. He got pretty thin there, and with the Cushing's his topline is pretty sad anyway. I am the BO, and all the horses are in very good weight and coat, a little sunbleached but all happy and maybe a little overweight. Have one OTTB that is a 2 on the scale and it just freaks me out. He's not that old, 16 years, and has been retired for 4 due to injury. He had his teeth done in April, is up to date on deworming (I dewormed him 2 weeks ago), he's top horse in the paddock, and there's no reason for him to be so skinny.until I was out at the barn one day to bring him in for the farrier. 20 minutes later, I put him back outside and saw that the horse he likes best had not only finished all HIS hay, but had already eaten half of my guy's. The BO changed horses and now another slow eater is in with my guy. Going through the same thing right now with 2 mares, 1 is 16 and 1 is 19.
Keeping Weight on the Older Horse. Usually the horse is over twenty. While this program does not work for every horse, my experience has been that most horses will gain between 80 and 120 pounds in the first two months on the intensive program. First, I will de-worm the horse and float the teeth. By floating the horse's teeth you increase his ability to grind his food. By pulling the teeth and grinding or cutting hooks, a horse can once again eat the food they want to eat without pain. So, if the horse is in the other horses, I will ask that he be removed and fed separately. Once they are stable separately, I will take the horse off hay completely and switch his feed to free choice "All in One". I will start the horse an a three shot program of anabolic steroids. By eliminating from the horse's belly any worms on a daily basis, you increase the food that goes to the horse not the worms. Additionally, I will add an extruded horse food to the diet.
Are there any supplements out there that help speed up the. Are there any supplements out there that help speed up the metabolism? Here is some information on the research if you are interested. These supplements are not FDA approved or regulated, so you have no guarantees regarding the quality, purity, safety or efficacy of some of the products out there on the market. The use of high-fat and -fiber rations are recommended to provide horse with energy. The fructans are formed by photosynthesis during hours of daylight and then used overnight to provide energy for growth. One is Wellsolve L/S which is the low starch feed for laminitic horses, and the other is called Wellsolve w/c which is a low calorie feed formulated with air in the pellets to give obese horses the feeling of getting more feed than they actually are. You can only upload files of type PNG, JPG, or JPEG. You can only upload photos smaller than 5 MB. You can only upload videos smaller than 600 MB. You can only upload a photo or a video.
Make sure the horse has access to salt (straight salt or a trace-mineral salt) and clean water. Forages in our pastures today are much higher in calorie content than the types of grasses that horses evolved on. The ultimate confinement with limited access to forage is represented by horses that are stallkept with limited turnout. Interestingly, a recent survey done in Virginia found that many obese horses are getting very little or no concentrate and still battle weight issues, adding emphasis to the lack of exercise as a contributor to obesity. Traditionally, working horses needed more calories than they could get from forage alone, and they were fed grain to make up the deficit. The extra weight requires more exertion to move and added fat layers insulate the body, reducing the horse’s ability to dissipate heat which can lead to heat stress. Using the tape accurately and consistently will allow you to track increases or decreases in your horse’s weight and give you time to adjust feed intake and exercise accordingly. Taking pictures of your horse at the same time you score them can also be helpful in monitoring changes in weight and condition. Gradually increase the amount of time and the frequency of exercise until the horse is working out at least 3-4 hours each week. Restricting access to pasture will often help decrease the horse’s calorie intake. Unless the amount of time on grass is severely limited horses will eat the same or more than horses left out 24 hours a day. Feed at least 1.5% of the horse’s target weight in good quality grass hay each day while limiting pasture access. The diet utilized for losing weight will not be the same as the one used for maintaining weight. Keep up the exercise and monitor the horse’s weight regularly to maintain a trimmer, healthier animal.
Horse was blanketed and has shelter. Still skinny, but about the same as before (although was hoping for weight gain with better weather). Get vet back out again and again. Later in day only eating the fat pellets and few of the hay pellets. Now just picking at food and not eating much at all. No interest in food when put up, not even the fat suppliment (which she normally chows down and begs for). She has not gone off food on drugs before, so think this is disease progression and not related to medication. If she's losing weight at the height of summer even with all that you're giving her, it would appear she's not processing her food any longer. If she can't keep her weight now, she's not going to make it through the next winter. He was the first horse I raised and trained that I was able to keep.
The kind of life a horse has led and its breed will play a big part. How often depends upon the condition of the horse, and the condition of its teeth. Sharp points can cause mouth ulcers and will discourage the horse from chewing food properly. If you’re familiar with the body score system for horses, do an assessment regularly to ensure your horse is not going backwards. Set up an area surrounded by electric fence tape and let the horse in for its meals. Horses quickly learn a feed routine and the others will soon understand the set-up. Good hay will cost more, but it’s a good investment, regardless of the age of the horse. And, as discussed earlier, the important thing is that it’s easily digestible. The moderate exercise an old horse gets from being turned out in a paddock is not only good for its mental well-being, it will help its mobility and aid digestion. The strengths and weaknesses in your horse’s feet will be well and truly revealed come old age. The key here is to keep your horse’s weight under control, and its diet well-balanced. Treatment for Cushing’s is affordable and will improve the horse’s quality of life.
Problems with dentition can have disastrous effects on the body condition of a horse. Young horses that roll feed in their mouths and spill feed from their mouths should have their teeth inspected for the presence of caps. If this is the case, feed is of little energetic benefit to the horse and weight loss will result. Any physiological problem that keeps food from getting to the intestines for absorption can cause weight problems. Horses that have chronic choke may have an esophageal obstruction that instigates the problem. Further along the digestive tract, problems that can occur in the small intestine, large intestine and cecum may influence the horse's ability to absorb nutrients. There are many causes of diarrhea in the horse. Chronic and acute disease can interfere with the horse's ability to maintain weight. The result is detrimental to the horse's ability to maintain weight. Pain can also dampen the appetite of the horse.
Feeding the Wrong Quantity or Quality of Hay. Feeding the Wrong Quantity or Quality of Grain. Feeding more grain morning and night can actually cause your horse to lose weight , since processed feeds are harder for horses to digest (especially in large quantities). Undigested starch in the hindgut can cause diarrhea, ulcers , colic and plenty of other problems that cause weight loss. Just as you probably don’t feel like guzzling ice-cold water when it’s snowing outside, horses are also more prone to dehydration in the wintertime — and care givers who forget to break the ice on water buckets don’t help things! Since horses need water to process their food, dehydration can lead to all sorts of problems in the hindgut, including increased acidity and toxins that can make your horse uncomfortable or lead to more serious issues like hindgut acidosis , colonic ulcers , and colic . Also, these starches and sugars can reach the hindgut when the horse is unable to chew properly and consumes grain meals too quickly. Undigested starch in the hindgut creates lactic acid which causes the horse discomfort, and can also lead to colic and laminitis. A horse’s age plays a major role in his ability to maintain winter weight, as the fingerlike projections that absorb nutrients in a horse’s digestive tract don’t work as well as the horse ages. Common problems identified, we’ll talk about how to evaluate your horse’s weight and condition in the next post so you can target winter weight loss problems early on — or before they begin. Be sure to subscribe to the SUCCEED blog or sign up for email notifications in the sidebar so you don’t miss Part 2: Assessing your horse’s condition .
Older Horses: Monitor Teeth, Weight, and Diet By Kentucky Equine Research Staff · July 27, 2015. Old horses may begin to lose weight because their teeth are no longer in good enough condition to completely chew hay and grain. Besides weight loss , owners of older horses may notice that it takes much longer than normal for them to finish a grain meal, and “quids” (wads of moist hay) may be dropped from the horse’s mouth instead of being swallowed. More dominant horses sometimes push these senior equines away from pasture-fed hay or fence-mounted grain feeders, leading to further weight loss. Provide feed and forage in a space that protects the older horse from bullying by more dominant animals. To ensure that senior horses derive maximum nutrition from the grain and forage they ingest, owners can use Equi Shure, a digestive health supplement developed by Kentucky Equine Research . Equi Shure may improve feed efficiency and is recommended for horses that experience weight loss.
Staying on top of your horse's health and nutrition is key to increasing and maintaining your older horse's weight at a healthy level. Step 1. Check your horse's teeth. Step 2. Step 3. Step 4. Step 5. Be sensitive to your older horse's needs. Step 6.
Senior horses that have difficulty maintaining weight often have dental problems. Regular floating and other maintenance by a qualified individual might keep some of those problems at bay, but for senior horses, one of the primary issues is tooth loss. These front teeth are usually the last ones lost by aged horses. The cheek teeth or molars, those found further back in the mouth, are the ones that affect the digestive capability of the horse. Complete feeds are those that can be fed as the sole ration, and are usually composed of an energy-rich roughage base (dehydrated alfalfa meal and/or dehydrated beet pulp, for instance) with energy, protein, and mineral-vitamin supplements added. Chopped hay should be premium quality, with alfalfa or a mixture of high-quality grass hay and alfalfa probably the best choices. These supplements often come in the form of a pellet and can be moistened to increase palatability. Some horsemen find that aged horses do well on alfalfa hay. While they are probably going to be unable to chew the stems, many horses with compromised dentition will shake or move the hay so that the leaves, which are the most nutritious part of the plant, fall off the stems and can be picked up. Horses that require still further calories to maintain weight can be fed fat in the form of vegetable oil, rice bran, or a fat supplement. This situation changed with the advent of more specialized and efficient deworming protocols, and today researchers see little difference in nutrient absorption between young and old horses. Well-fortified feeds made especially for seniors are also suggested, as they often contain energy sources that are easily fermented in the hindgut.
Arthritis is certainly not confined to older horses, but it typically gets worse with age and may even appear in an older horse that did not have problems at a younger age. Older horses also lose muscle mass and can be more prone to weaknesses in the tendons and ligaments. Keeping the older horse in light work is actually beneficial for the joints, muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Light work can do a lot to prevent muscle loss in older horses and keeps the horse more limber. Horses can make their own Vitamin C, but this capacity decreases with age in other species so it may also decrease in the horse as well. For older horses whose joints are very stiff, consider Neoprene wraps for part of the day. They also might be bullied by the younger horses, which can lead to stress and possible stomach ulcers. Senior diets were devised to meet the special needs of older horses, and they do a very good job, too. Finally, make absolutely sure that the older horse has sufficient time to finish meals and is not having his food taken by other horses. The consequences for the horse are too severe. For more details on managing the horse with PPID and insulin resistance, visit the Equine Cushing's and Insulin Resistance group at http:/pets.groups. While older horses do have some special health needs, many of the issues associated with arthritis, weight loss, and Cushing's Disease can be managed so that you can enjoy many more special years. Those of us who have had the pleasure of knowing and loving an older horse also know that any extra work is worth it!
Geeks On Pets > > Horses > > Horse Health > > Weight Loss in a Horse. Weight Loss in a Horse. Any horse that suffers from weight loss needs to be seen by a vet. The reason the horse is losing weight is because the horse’s body is not getting the nutrition it needs nor is it getting the calories it needs to get through the day. Even after tapping fat layers and with the horse eating normally or even more than usual, a horse that is losing weight has something interfering with its ability to absorb nutrition from its food. Eventually, as weight loss increases, the horse’s spine becomes prominent and sunken hollow spaces will appear over the eyes. There are many medical causes for unexplained weight loss in a horse. Treatment varies depending upon what the cause of the horse’s weight loss is. If the cause is a physical ailment, then the medical condition has to be treated before the horse can be expected to put weight back on.
Indeed, many of these horses were still rideable or, in the case of stallions and mares, used for breeding. However, if an aged horse has one or more of the problems in Table 1, it is a candidate for special care. As with human athletes, years of stress, injuries, and general wear and tear can result in painful and crippling arthritic changes in the limbs of horses. However, a little stiffness that the aged horse will warm out of fairly quickly should not be a cause for alarm or retirement. To make the arthritic horse more comfortable, consult with your farrier and veterinarian regarding the optimal way to shoe or trim the horse. The most common causes of weight loss in aged horses are failure to keep up with deworming schedules, debilitating diseases, and/or poor dentition. The diet of horses over 20 years old should have at least 12% protein and 0.3% phosphorus with calcium equal to or greater than the phosphorus content but less than 1% on a dry matter basis (Ralston, 1989). The teeth of horses fed dry hay and grain need more frequent attention than those on lush pasture. Only “complete” pelleted feeds which are designed to be fed without hay should be used since many pelleted feeds are only grain substitutes and do not contain the proper mineral balance to be used as the major or sole source of nutrition for the horse. In a study of geriatric horses (Ralston et al., 1989), over 70% of the horses over the age of 20 had at least subclinical signs (altered glucose and cortisol metabolism) of pituitary/thyroid tumors. Thyroid tumors usually are considered to be benign but can increase the incidence of obesity and founder. If properly managed, horses with these tumors can live for years after appearance of the clinical signs. Since plasma levels of vitamin C are reduced in aged horses with pituitary tumors, 5 to 10 gm of ascorbic acid in the feed per day may be beneficial.
Dental and mouth problems may also lead to weight loss. Problems with swallowing caused by tumors or disease also lead to weight loss. Chronic, painful conditions such as arthritis, chronic laminitis, non-healing wounds, invasive tumors, or other conditions that reduce the horse's mobility, desire for food, and ability to graze will lead to weight loss, as will chronic infections such as EIA, internal abscesses, chronic bacterial infections, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Lymphosarcoma is the most common internal cancer in horses and often affects the liver, spleen, and lungs, leading to loss of weight. Chronic diarrhea and parasitism of the large intestine, granulomatous enteritis, and ulcerative lesions lead to loss of body fluids, competition for nutrients in the gastrointestinal tract, inflammation, micronutrient deficiencies, and loss of appetite and weight in stricken horses, with serious consequences if not diagnosed and treated. Another cause of serious weight loss in horses relates to insufficient feed, poor quality feed, or the wrong combination of feed for the horse's energy or nutrient requirements. Much of the prevention of weight loss is based on sound horse management, quick and accurate diagnosis of diseases and conditions, careful attention to the demands for nutritional intake based on exercise and performance levels, and knowledge of each particular horse's ongoing physical condition. Some horses are thin by nature, so it is mainly when a horse loses weight combined with a loss of condition that owners and handlers should be concerned. First and foremost, treatment of weight loss depends on accurate diagnosis and treatment of the disease or condition that is causing the horse to lose weight.