There are many causes of weight loss in horses. It is important to monitor your horse’s weight and pay attention to any fluctuations. Dangerous levels of weight gain or weight loss can cause extreme health issues.
Causes of Weight Loss
Many things attribute to weight loss. These causes include:
- Worms or parasites- these can leach the nutrition from your horse.
- Dental problems- dental problems may prevent your horse from eating adequate amounts of food.
- Dehydration- a sign of dehydration is a decreased appetite in horses, which can lead to weight loss.
- Insufficient nutrition- if the horse is not consuming enough calories, it will certainly lose weight.
- Stress- weight loss is one of the signs of stress.
- Specific breeds- Specific breeds are predisposed to higher metabolic rates. This can also vary between horses and temperaments. In general, nervous horses tend to burn through calories more quickly than calm ones. Familiarize yourself with your horse’s base metabolic rate, to ensure that you are providing the right amount of food.
Dietary Changes to Prevent Weight Loss
You should always offer free choice hay unless your veterinarian determines a medical reason not to. It is necessary to make any dietary adjustments slowly to prevent potential digestive problems from occurring. Ensure that the hay you are feeding is high-quality.
Beet pulp can be added as a supplement. It has high-fiber content, which a horse’s metabolism can convert to energy and fat. Adding starches, such as grains, is another way to increase the energy density of your horse’s diet. The addition of various types of oils can significantly boost the caloric content of the food.
Moderating temperatures is also an important factor in preventing weight loss. Cold temperatures will raise the horse’s metabolism, to allow it to stay warm. Hot temperatures may result in loss of appetite. Proper hydration is important to prevent appetite loss. This is one of the major advantages of a Bar-Bar-A watering system.
If weight gain doesn’t occur within 10 days, or if the horse is showing signs of severe malnutrition, you must consult with your veterinarian. Halting weight loss in the early stages, will prevent it from escalating to extremes. If dietary changes don’t result in weight gain, it is likely caused by a medical problem, which can be determined by your vet.