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Weight loss in horse

Weight Loss in Horse

Weight loss is a problem that many horse owners have to deal with at some point in time or the other.

There are a number of reasons why horses loose weight; however, the three main reasons are malnourishment, parasitism and dental problems.
If the horse is loosing weight because of malnourishment then it means that the calorie intake is not sufficient. It may be consuming a lower amount of calories than it uses.

It probably doesn’t have a balanced diet. This could be due to poor quality feeds, inadequate amounts of feed or the horse maybe missing out on feed due to competition from other horses.

If the horse suffers from Parasitism, it looses weight because parasites deprive the horse of nutrition as they consume the nutrients. These parasites also cause an inflammation in the horse's gut leading to poor absorption of nutrients across the gut wall. A parasite management program that involves the use of appropriate de-wormers given at the correct dose, combined with pasture management should minimize the impact parasites have on the horse. If the horse suffers from some dental problems it can also lead to massive weight loss. The first two steps in digestion are picking up the feed and then chewing it. If there is any reason why these two steps are not carried out right then it has a direct impact on the rest of the digestive process. In severe dental cases such as loose, fractured or infected teeth the horse stops eating all together.

In order to get some weight on a skinny horse few things horse owners can try are:

Make sure all your horses get a scoop of hard feed each, a few scoops of chaff and maybe a supplement thrown in for good measure.

  • Add more calories to the diet to meet the horses’ physical requirements.
  • Make sure it has been de-wormed and its teeth are checked by a veterinarian
  • Beet pulp is often fed as a supplement as it is high in fiber which the horse can turn into energy and body fat.
  • Rice bran and flax are also a popular addition to the diet
  • Introduce the underweight horse to lush grass gradually to decrease the possibility of founder or colic.  
If this change in the feeding program does not produce at least some gain in weight or energy within about 10 days consult your veterinarian.
  Submitted on March 18, 2010