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Weight loss problem - I need HELP!

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  • Weight loss problem - I need HELP!

    I have a Dutch warmblood mare who is losing weight despite significant food.

    She was just dewormed March 31st with fenbendazole, then April 9th with Quest Plus at vet's suggestion.
    Teeth have been checked and are good.
    Vaccination up to date.

    Vet gave physical and states she is healthy and bright. Blood work clear.

    She's shedding normally and her summer coat is very glossy. Hoofs growing well. She's got piles of energy and loves to play and dance around in the pasture, so she's definitely feeling good.

    AM: 4 pounds beet pulp, 1/4 cup oil, 2 pounds oats. Considering adding 2-3 pounds of 17% balanced complete feed.

    PM: 4 pounds beet pulp, 2 pounds 17% balanced complete, 2 pounds calcium fortified rice bran, 3 pounds alfalfa pellets, 1/2 cup oil. Vitamin/mineral supplement.

    Hay: Ad lib alfalfa/brome, plus pasture. Grass is not really up yet, so she really piles away the hay. The 3 horses are putting away a 1500 pound round bale in 4 days, so that tells you just how much they're eating. She's the boss so she always gets first dibs at whatever she wants.

    The others are good weight. She is probably 75 pounds too shy. She was weaned off her foal last fall, and just a month ago he left to his new home. My husband wonders whether she is mourning? She was pretty attached to him even though they were in separate paddocks all winter.

    Ulcers maybe?? Vet wasn't convinced this was the problem but I'm not sure??

    She's eating really well... she always finishes her grain, I always see her either grazing or eating hay. She rests sometimes to sun herself, or lay down to sleep, but then she's right back to eating. Pooping good. Drinking and peeing good. Her heats are regular - she's had 3 heats already this season.

    I'm totally at a loss. I've never had a horse do this despite this kind of food.


    PS: She is 18 years old this year. Last year she was in great shape. This year, she is a completely different horse.
    Last edited by siksika; Apr. 20, 2010, 03:11 AM.

  • #2
    This just comes from my experience, so please don't let it scare you, but I would take her back to the vet for a thorough work up, including potentially a ultrasound of her digestive tract if you haven't already.

    I had a gelding that had internal tumors (his were melanomas) that led to his euthanasia. He sounded similar to your girl - good spirits, nice coat. However, he dropped significant weight despite us feeding him a TON of senior and free choice hay. There was also a mare at the same barn that had intestinal tumors that led to weight loss. Eventually, the mare coliced badly and was PTS (after which, the necropsy found the tumors).

    I don't think it's a management problem, as you have obviously been diligent about taking care of everything for her (teeth, worming, food, etc). Maybe a fat supplement beyond the oil you currently give her?

    Best of luck, and I do hope that she is just having a rough spring and comes back 100% soon.


    • #3
      I was thinking check her metabolic stuff and blood work - don't some people and/or animals lose weight with insulin changes? Don't know how or what to look for specifically, but you could ask the vet about checking her blood work. Heck, thyroid, whatever. Just a thought. A poorly edumacated one, but a thought...
      Airborne? Oh. Yes, he can take a joke. Once. After that, the joke's on you.


      • #4
        3 horses, 1500lb of hay, 4 days? That's 125lb of hay per horse per day. Really, they cannot be eating all that.

        You used fenbendazole 3/31 - single dose? Waste of money

        But you used Quest Plus on 4/9, so that took are of things. Has she put any weight on since then? Do you weekly/bi-weekly weight tape her? I would think she should be, 11 days later, if the issue was parasites.

        If she's not putting weight on after that, since using QP gets them about as clean as you can ever get a horse, then I agree a full CBC should be run.

        I wouldn't rule out ulcers at this point - have you ever treated her for them?

        It's possible she is insulin resistant - they don't all look like blimps. So, checking for that would be a good idea too.

        To that end I'd remove all her grains (ie the oats) and replace it with a-pellets and see what happens.

        What makes you say she needs about another 75lb? Many people see a weight (ie calorie) issue when it's really a lack of sufficient muscling. Do you have a picture? How easily can you see and/or feel her ribs?
        The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


        • #5
          You are certainly feeding her enough.

          What does her manure look like? Any sign of it being runny or foul smelling?

          I know it's hard to know which poop pile belongs to which horse in a group turn out, but see if you can check her manure.

          Then run a CBC, ask for a liver panel as well.

          Is she drinking more than normal? Peeing more than normal?

          While you find out the answers to these questions, replace 1 lb of sugar beet with 1 lb of the 17% fortified feed and also add in 20 -30 grams a day of whey protein powder (the kind they sell for body builders).
          See if that helps any.

          But a liver panel and CBC might provide some useful info.
          Melyni (PhD) PAS, Dipl. ACAN.
          Sign up for the Equine nutrition enewsletter on www.foxdenequine.com
          New edition of book is out:
          Horse Nutrition Handbook.



          • Original Poster

            JB, they are indeed eating all of that in 4 days and in our very cold winter climate, they actually do need all that. There is some wastage too as they do trample some of it in the mud, but for the most part, they are eating on it 24/7. Our grass is not up yet.

            I will definitely increase the 17%. She isn't very keen on it, but absolutely gobs for beet pulp, so I was using the beet pulp to mix in the 17% and I will hunt around for whey powder.

            Manure is normal. Pee looks normal. Nothing smells foul. She is also cycling normally too. She has energy GALORE - no doubt with all the food she's getting, grief she can hardly eat it all. A neighbour suggested Ultra Kelp, so I might try that too. He says it is excellent for horses who may be starting down the metabolic road. It's not terribly expensive so it is certainly worth a try too.


            • #7
              Where are you that it's that cold? I'm only asking (still cannot fathom how a horse can possibly eat 125lb of hay a day :confused) because if she's not blanketed, it may be she cannot consume enough calories to maintain weight.
              The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


              • #8
                Well, actually, my horses also could eat that much when in front of a round bale. I have 5 horses per round bale and they go through a 1700 pound bale in about 4 days, although I make mine scrounge around and clean up on day 5. It's a LOT of hay, but they do eat it. It boggles my mind but they just sorta stand there and eat and eat and eat. I live in Southern Alberta and even here the winter temps can get to -40 plus wind chill, especially if associated with nonstop snow. So, really, I can see why the OP says her horses can eat like that and I'm gathering the OP must be even further north than I am? Our grass is only just starting to pop up now - after finally getting rid of the 1 foot of snow we just got last week. We lost power for 48 hours too.

                Siksika, I would remove the oats actually, and replace its poundage with the 17% you're feeding. I'm gathering the 17% is a pellet feed. You might also want to try a bit of yeast and I also second the Ultra Kelp. I swear by that stuff. I have a mare who is metabolic as well as hypothyroid and the Ultra Kelp righted her in rather short order.

                If that doesn't work, another visit by the vet is definitely in order.
                Practice! Patience! Persistence!


                • #9
                  OK, if you say so LOL!
                  The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


                  • #10
                    In the depth of winter cold that isn't that unusual.

                    During the really bad snow and cold of this winter, I put a 1500lb round bale out for 5 mares, they ate it in 48hrs. I made them wait another 24 hrs to force them to really clean up and replaced it. The replacement was gone in 48 hrs again. That's 3,000lbs of hay in a week, between 5 horses!

                    So much for a 2.5% of BW per day intake!

                    So I believe you because I have seen it for myself.

                    But as the grass comes through their hay consumption should go down. Look into added fat for extra calories on your mare.

                    Melyni (PhD) PAS, Dipl. ACAN.
                    Sign up for the Equine nutrition enewsletter on www.foxdenequine.com
                    New edition of book is out:
                    Horse Nutrition Handbook.



                    • #11
                      Have you recently pulled blankets and is it still chilly at night or windy or wet? Some horses use up a lot of energy during the transition from no blankets to blankets.

                      When she eats, does she ever tip her head, chew sideways or drop food? I know you said her teeth are fine, but if she has a tooth abscess brewing it can show up first as weight loss.
                      "The mighty oak is a nut who stood its ground"

                      "...you'll never win Olympic gold by shaking a carrot stick at a warmblood..." see u at x