Brainstorm with me- horse intermittently not eating
Two weeks ago, after getting vaccinated and his teeth done, my horse stopped eating. I initially (for about 24 hours) chalked it up to feeling a little icky from vaccines. Teeth seemed fine, so, after talking with the vet, I started him on Ulcerguard. Finally started eating again after two tubes and two full days of no interest in his feed. Ate well for about a day and a half, lost interest, more Ulcerguard, then switched to pop rocks. He ate consistently for a week. Sunday night he didn't finish his dinner. I don't know how well he ate yesterday (I was off and my fill in guy isn't always on top of the sort of thing), but when I put him in his stall this morning, it was obvious he hadn't eaten much dinner last night. He picked at it a bit, and I put a few handfuls of his breakfast on top. He quickly lost interest.
He is otherwise normal, happy, and his usual self. No temp, no discomfort anywhere. Happily works. Looks like a million bucks (super shiny, good weight). He isn't a great hay eater under the best of circumstances (especially this time of year with all the good grass), so I can't judge anything by how much or little hay he eats. He has never not eaten the majority of his feed unless REALLY spun up (ie, the morning of a show).
I have asked the vet to come out and take a look. But, really, I'm not sure what he can do. Any thoughts on other reasons, other than teeth and tummy, that an otherwise happy, healthy horse would stop eating?
My horse used to do this! Had bloodwork done, treated for ulcers (even though he didn't have any), tried other feeds (Sweet feed, senior feed, other pelleted brands, adding molasses)---nothing worked. Even whilst doing this, he looked great and behaved normally. Lost a little weight while he went through his "No eating" spells, but other than that was fine. Even though he didn't have ulcers via scope, he had the best appetite overall on Ranitidine.
Switched to an extruded feed (Blue Seal performance LS), after some research, and after over a year, he has NEVER turned down a meal! Not only that, but I have been able to cut his ration in half, and wean him off of Ranitidine (been off for over 3 months--normally would have stopped eating after missing 2-3 days). Not sure if this would help your case, but just wanted to share my story as it sounds similar. Best of luck!
Originally Posted by rustbreeches
[George Morris] doesn't always drink beer, but when he does, he prefers Dos Equis
My boys get only a token amount of hard feed - nothing particularly yummy save a handful of oats- and its primarily to conceal their supplements. Equipride, a hefty dose of salt, Buglyte, SweatAgain... not exactly topping the 'nummy' list. Luckily my guys are such piglets they whicker for even this.
HOWEVER, since the advent of spring grass my guys have been mostly leaving their hard feed to get back to the task of grass mongering. Hay too, only the choicest morsels are being consumed. They eventually do clean up all of their hay and hard feed, but its bites here and there over the course of the entire day.
Calling the vet is always good advice, but in my guy's case, this sudden 'loss of appetite' is just a matter of having better options.
Worry is the biggest enemy of the present. It steals your joy and keeps you very busy doing absolutely nothing at all... it’s like using your imagination to create things you don’t want.
Wiggly loose tooth, or one that's cracked and sending intermittent shooting pains up the root. Lots of times they'll still eat forage but not grain with one of these.
It can even be a front one, caused by a kick in the chops! It's also possible the floater disturbed something that didn't want to be disturbed. These usually, with time, resolve on their own.
Was he eating just fine before the dental/vaccine work? If so, I'd start with a full, thorough, sedated oral exam to see if a tooth or gum injury may not have happened. After that, if all was A-OK in the mouth, maybe I'd be thinking some sort of general vaccine reaction. I'm never sure what to look for in "blood work" with situations like this, as this kind of fishing expedition literally almost never turns up anything IME.
He was eating just fine before, then he wasn't, then he was, then he wasn't, then he was, now he isn't again. And, like I said, he's not a keen hay eater under the best of circumstances, so it's hard to judge what he's thinking.
I don't know what we would be looking for in bloodwork, either. He is FINE (by all appearances) otherwise. He's bright and happy and his usual opinionated self. He feels great under tack, is happy in the bridle, and looks fantastic. He doesn't look or act sick in any way. Or painful. Just not hungry.
Part of me DOES think he might just be stuffed (he usually greets me at the gate every morning with all sorts of hooliganism, but the last few mornings he won't even lift his head to acknowledge me). But, it isn't typical of him to go off his grain when the spring grass comes up...just his hay. He IS quite fit (about the fittest I've ever had him, and only getting fitter), and my long time coach/mentor hypothesized that we may be finding out what he's like when he's REALLY fit (I've groomed a couple of UL horses that lost their appetites the fitter they got...which is, obviously, a huge PITA).
Maybe it is something going on in his mouth (worth a shot, though he does crunch up carrots with no issue). I just don't know why he would not eat, then eat like normal for a week, then give it up again.
One thing I did wonder about was the second two times he's stopped eating (not the time directly after teeth/vaccines) he had done canter sets during the day, then lost interest in his dinner later in the day. I've wondered if he stirred up his belly.