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HELP! My horse has stopped eating grain!

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  • HELP! My horse has stopped eating grain!

    I have an 8 year old OTTB that as abut 3 weeks ago slowly stopped eating his grain. At first I thought it was his teeth because he just started eating slower... but I had those done last weekend and it's not getting any better. You must know that he's never been a great eater... he never finishes his breakfast because he's more interested in getting turned out... but he used to come in and finish it up... now he's eating very little grain and he wouldn't even take it out of my hand today... and I tried different grains and he wouldn't eat any of them. He's still eating his hay and drinking just fine... he's already hard to keep weight on and I'm really worried. We did take blood work last weekend and I'm still waiting to talk to the vet about it... my vet also thought he might have a magnesium defficentcy... could that be related?? Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

  • #2
    Best guess? Ulcers. Either scope to see or start treating with gastrogard.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Simkie View Post
      Best guess? Ulcers. Either scope to see or start treating with gastrogard.
      Yeah, that's like textbook ulcer symptoms.
      Tell a Gelding. Ask a Stallion. Discuss it with a Mare... Pray if it's a Pony!

      Comment


      • #4
        I'd try a different bag of grain, just in case something is wrong with that bag. If no change, I'd ditto the ulcer suggestion.

        Comment


        • #5
          How old is the grain? It can get stale or rancid.

          I'd try a new bag.

          If that doesn't work...vet check time.
          A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

          Might be a reason, never an excuse...

          Comment


          • #6
            Ditto on ulcers. My horse did exactly the same thing....slowly started eating slower, then leaving food in his bucket - then more and more, and eventually wouldn't eat at all. Absolutely scope or try treating the ulcers and I bet your problem is fixed, and fast. I didn't believe it myself as my horse had no other symptoms. Good luck!

            Comment


            • #7
              ulcers ulcers ulcers

              Comment


              • #8
                ditto on the old grain, ditto on the ulcers.

                are you feeding him any supplements in his grain? My greedy piggy mustang... (good golly he's a pig) will not touch once morsel of his food if there are 2 particular supplments/meds in it...
                Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Ulcers. That is a typical scenario. Still eating hay, won't eat grain. Give him 1 tube of Ulcergard a day and I bet in 2-3 days he is eating grain again. Then keep up with the ulcergard for 28 days or as long as you can afford it. You can switch to a cheaper ulcer med like ranitidine, but this won't cure the ulcer, just make his tummy less acidic and allow him to heal himself. And of course, consult with a vet rather than listening to a random person on a bb. But the ulcergard won't hurt, and if it helps, then ulcers were your problem and no need to scope. Then you might want to think about changing his diet to avoid the ulcers again. Alfalfa if he can take it. Other ulcer supplements.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Hijacking ahead:

                    So if yourhorse hoovers up grain does that mean he/she doesnt have ulcers?

                    Resume coarse and speed.
                    “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” Peter Drucker

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      JohnDeere - I had my horse for a year and never thought he ate slow. Although our barn mgr. commented on it, as he had to wait until mine was done to put the other field board back out. He had subtle "other" symptoms - crabby at times under saddle. He was also VERY barn sour - part behavioural but I can't help but think it had something to do with it. I wouldn't want to go out if my belly hurt either! I trained through the barn sourness and we "cured it" through training but it was a battle. Interestingly since treating the ulcers, I have one happy boy who actually turns away from the barn at a quick walk with NO urging...and if he had a choice of which way to go when we get home, it's sometimes BACK OUT to the field/trails. Total 180 for him.

                      But, back to your "hijacking" ....Now that we treated ulcers, I cannot believe how quickly he devours his food! Yes, like a "hoover" - and it's the way he eats now. He eats more ravenously if that makes sense. Really digs in.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by JohnDeere View Post
                        Hijacking ahead:

                        So if yourhorse hoovers up grain does that mean he/she doesnt have ulcers?

                        Resume coarse and speed.
                        No, it does not - they still could have them. It is merely that refusing to eat grain is a hallmark symptom of having ulcers.

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          OK - I'm starting him on GastroGard treatment tomorrow. Does anyone have any recommedations for diet changes to help him in the future? He eats 2 qts of Blue Seal Senior twice a day plus 4 qts of hay stretcher and three feedings of hay per day. I am planning to start him on U-Gard once the gastrogard treatment is over... anything else that should change? I know no banamine or bute...

                          Anyway, anything additional is appreciated...

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Free choice hay

                            Decrease stress, more turnout?

                            And I wouldn't necessarily avoid giving him banamine or bute forever if he needs it for something - it's not like those drugs automatically cause ulcers. Just avoid them in the short term if he doesn't need them.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by lohsela View Post
                              OK - I'm starting him on GastroGard treatment tomorrow. Does anyone have any recommedations for diet changes to help him in the future? He eats 2 qts of Blue Seal Senior twice a day plus 4 qts of hay stretcher and three feedings of hay per day. I am planning to start him on U-Gard once the gastrogard treatment is over... anything else that should change? I know no banamine or bute...

                              Anyway, anything additional is appreciated...
                              You don't mention what type of hay you're feeding. You may consider giving some alfalfa. Alfalfa is known to alleviate stomach acids.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Also do bloodwork to check kidney function

                                My daughter's pony slowly stopped eating his grain. At the time he was getting a mixture of oats, Purina Equine Senior and Nutrena XTN. I separated it into 3 bowls and it was the XTN that he would not eat. I called the feed store and was told they were discontinuing XTN and probably we had an old bag. Vet said it was okay to eliminate the XTN and just do Senior & Oats. All was fine until a few weeks later when he backed off his feed again. Again separated the feed and this time it was the Senior. The feed store sells more Equine Senior than any other feed, so I was pretty sure it was not an old bag.

                                In the meantime he is cleaning up his hay, eating grass very well, drinking, peeing, pooping like normal. Also his energy level was totally fine. He traveled to all kinds of competitions, brought home a load of ribbons and prizes, and was bright-eyed and bushy tailed.

                                About 3 months after I first noticed him backing off of grain I had his blood tested since the vet was out doing a PPE on a horse I had on trial. His kidney results were all out of whack. His creatinine was way off, at 9 (high normal is I believe 2.2). Off we went to the University of Georgia where they diagnosed kidney failure. Their ultrasounds revealed one dead, shriveled kidney and the other one was very shriveled up, although it appeared marginally healthy. He had apparently had kidney disease his whole life and never showed it. We had to have him put down 3 weeks after the diagnosis.

                                Throughout all of this, even while he was at UGA he scarfed up his hay. I later found out that the ingredients in the feeds he was eating (Equine Senior & Nutrena XTN) as well as the ingredients in almost all commercial horse feed are totally wrong for a horse with kidney issues. This is not to say the feeds caused the problems; it is to say that eating the grain while the kidneys are failing can make the horse feel very bad, so they back off the grain.

                                I hope this is not what is wrong with your horse. UGA told me that kidney disease is something that is very rarely considered, everyone thinks ulcers. Lots of kidney problems can be treated, but my understanding was that anytime the kidneys are under stress, the horse may back off their grain.

                                Good luck!

                                SCM1959

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  Originally posted by luvmywalkers View Post
                                  You don't mention what type of hay you're feeding. You may consider giving some alfalfa. Alfalfa is known to alleviate stomach acids.
                                  He is getting a orchard grass mix... I have considered adding alfalfa dengie to his diet? He won't eat alfalfa pellets... or at least he never used to want to eat alfalfa pellets or cubes...

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by lohsela View Post
                                    He is getting a orchard grass mix... I have considered adding alfalfa dengie to his diet? He won't eat alfalfa pellets... or at least he never used to want to eat alfalfa pellets or cubes...
                                    You could try regular alfalfa. I use dehydrated alfalfa; none of mine have any issues with it.

                                    Did you get the results of the blood test yet?

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Katy says that if there's really nothing wrong with it, he should send it over to her. :-)

                                      Good luck sorting it out. These are good ideas, particularly ulcers.
                                      I tolerate all kinds of animal idiosyncrasies.
                                      I've found that I don't tolerate people idiosyncrasies as well. - Casey09

                                      Comment

                                      • Original Poster

                                        #20
                                        Originally posted by luvmywalkers View Post
                                        You could try regular alfalfa. I use dehydrated alfalfa; none of mine have any issues with it.

                                        Did you get the results of the blood test yet?
                                        Yes... blood test showed inflamed pancreas and excessive amounts of muscle enzymes - which both, from what I understand mean he definitely has a digestive disorder. We are going to treat with gastrogard for 7 days and if we see results we will continue the treatment for the month... if not we will test him for other digestive disorders... ugh...

                                        Comment

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