Friday, October 14, 2011

Why Isn’t My Horse Gaining Weight? - Full Article

By Dr. Clarissa Brown-Douglas · August 25, 2011

It seems like your thin horse is constantly eating, but he just doesn’t seem to hold any weight. What might be going on?

There are several major issues to consider when trying to put weight on a thin horse.

Health issues

The first step in trying to change a horse’s body condition is to get a full medical workup to see if there’s a health reason as to why he’s not picking up condition as he should.

Dental problems are commonly cited as a reason for inability to gain or maintain weight. Horses must chew their food thoroughly in order to digest it completely; if their teeth are in poor or neglected shape, they might not be able to chew. A sharp or infected tooth can also cause oral discomfort, making the horse hesitant to eat.

Gastric ulcers can also result in inappetence. A recent study revealed that over 58% of horses across various disciplines had gastric ulcers. Some horses that are ill for other reasons or stressed will eat better when treated with drugs that reduce stomach acid, even though they do not actually have ulcers.

When high concentrations of fructans are found in pasture grasses or when large grain meals are fed, horses digest these highly fermentable sugars in the hindgut. A condition known as subclinical acidosis can result in decreased feed intake, mild to moderate colic of unknown origin, poor feed efficiency with weight loss, poor attitude, loss of performance, and development of vices such as cribbing and wood-chewing. A hindgut buffer, such as EquiShure, helps neutralize gut conditions by preventing the drastic drop in pH associated with high lactate production...

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