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 F. Gray, DVM, MA SmartPak Staff Veterinarian and Medical Director Dr. Lydia Gray has earned a Bachelor of Science in agriculture, a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM), and a Master of Arts focusing on interpersonal and organizational communication. After “retiring” from private practice, she put her experience and education to work as the American Association of Equine Practitioner’s first-ever Director of Owner Education. Dr. Gray continues to provide health and nutrition information to horse owners through her position at SmartPak, through publication in more than a dozen general and trade publications, and through presentations around the country. She is the very proud owner of a Trakehner named Newman that she actively competes with in dressage and combined driving. In addition to memberships in the USDF and USEF, Dr. Gray is also a member of the Illinois Dressage and Combined Training Association (IDCTA). She is a USDF “L” Program Graduate and is currently working on her Bronze Medal. 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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