Rapid Weight Loss in Horse

We have a 34 year old mare, (quarter horse) who is losing weight rapidly in the last month. We had been maintaining her weight. We feed her 2 scoop twice a day (we’re guessing 3-4lbs) of Nutrena Senior Feed. She will not eat it if we add water to it. Our equine vet was out in January to repair and float teeth. What could we add/supplement or change to help her? We appreciate any advice you have to offer. Thank you, Joanne

Dear Joanne,

First I recommend you schedule your veterinarian to come back out and see her. Senior horses need twice yearly examinations because changes can happen so quickly and since it’s been six months since the last visit, she’s due anyway. She may need more teeth work done at this time. Also be prepared to discuss your parasite control program and even provide a few fecal balls for a fecal egg per gram count. Your veterinarian will probably also want to draw some blood to check for specific diseases and to assess organ function.

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Without knowing the exact name of the product I can only guess that you’re feeding what’s known as a complete feed (hay and grain in a bag). 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.

Lydia Gray, DVM MA, is the Staff Veterinarian for SmartPak. Prior to joining SmartPak, Dr. Gray served as the first-ever Director of Owner Education for the American Association of Equine Practitioners. She has authored numerous articles in publications such as The Horse, Horse Illustrated, Western Horseman and a variety of veterinary journals and magazines. Dr. Gray is also a frequent speaker at horse expos, veterinary conventions and other events. After graduating with honors from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine and receiving her Master's Degree in Interpersonal and Organizational Communication, she practiced at the Tremont Veterinary Clinic for several years. Dr. Gray is active in the American Veterinary Medical Association and Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association. She enjoys training and showing her Trakehner, Newman, in both combined driving and dressage, and is a USDF “L” Program Graduate (with distinction). Find Dr. Gray on Google+

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3 comments on “Rapid Weight Loss in Horse
  1. Eden says:

    Thanks for this post. My 24 yr old TB hard keeper has also lost weight. But what concerns me more is his nonchalant attitude toward eating. I plan on adding soaked beat pulp to the program.

  2. Kathey says:

    My 30 yr old TB was eating all of his grain but dropping weight. I get his teeth floated every year and when the dentist checked his teeth we discovered that had ground down almost to the gum line over the past year. We now feed him Senior feed and chopped forage and he’s put his weight back on just fine. He wouldn’t touch the beet pulp!

  3. shanna says:

    i always fed my horses well grained feed with plenty of hay and someone told me if i need a horse to put on weight an have a shinier coat to put a little corn oil in his feed so i did that an he gained alot of weight and has a beautiful coat ,, but of course he is only 23 months old an a standerbred tri color stud i need to find something to make his body fill out more he still has little hips like the colt look im just curious what else to feed him to help with this

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