Are You Having Trouble Keeping Weight On Your Senior Horse?

Posted on: 6 April 2016

Have you noticed that your senior horse is losing weight? This isn't uncommon, and a change of diet may be in order. As horses age, their dietary needs often change. Not unlike people, horses tend to slow down as they get older. Their activity level is likely lower than it used to be, and their metabolism is going through changes too.

Before you make any alterations to your horse's diet, you will want to be sure that there aren't any underlying problems causing weight loss. Some possible problems include:

Teeth – If you notice that your horse is having trouble chewing grass, hay, or grain, there may be something wrong with his or her teeth. A horse's teeth will develop points or edges over time. These points need to be filed (floated) by a vet or equine dentist. Left unattended, your horse may develop painful sores or ulcers in its mouth. Jagged points on teeth can also make it difficult for a horse to chew his hay well. This will result in them not being able to digest properly and get the necessary nutrients.

It isn't uncommon for older horses to lose teeth. If your horse is missing some teeth, you will have to adjust their diet in order to make it easier for him or her to eat. This usually involves soaking their hay and grain.

Parasites – Internal parasites can deprive a horse of the nutrition they need to maintain or gain weight. A vet, like Edisto Equine Clinic, can do a fecal check to confirm that your horse if free of parasites. Be sure to keep your horse on a preventive deworming program.

Medical Condition – You will want to have your horse examined to make sure there isn't an underlying medical condition that is causing weight loss. Your vet may want to check your horse's liver and kidney functions along with making sure he or she is in overall good health. 

Once you have determined that your senior horse doesn't have any underlying issues causing weight loss, you can start making adjustments to their diet. Feed manufacturers make special formulas for senior horses. These products usually contain a higher percentage of fat, protein, and fiber than other adult grains. Some are also formulated to be easier to chew than other mixtures.

You can talk to your vet about supplements for your horse. Feed such as beet pulp can be added to their diet. Should you go the beet pulp route, you must be exceptionally careful when feeding it. In most of its forms, beet pulp has to be soaked. It expands a great deal which could be very dangerous to your horse if not soaked before feeding.

Remember to make dietary changes gradually by reducing the amount of the old food and adding small quantities of the new. Do this over a few weeks time until you have him or her completely switched over to their new diet.


Keeping Your Pets Healthy

After I started staying home full time instead of working, I realized that my pets weren't as healthy as I thought they were. They basically laid around the house all day, and I started growing increasingly concerned about their well-being. I wanted to know more about their health, so I visited a veterinarian in my area. He gave me a few really good tips on reducing their caloric intake and encouraging exercise. Now, I can say that my dogs are truly healthy and energetic. This blog is all about keeping your pets healthy so that you can continue to enjoy their company.