Equine Weight Loss Mysteries

How to unravel the reason behind your horse’s head-scratching weight loss.

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Equine Weight Loss Mysteries
Reasons for weight loss can range from a simple lack of feeding knowledge to conditions such as gastric ulcer disease and chronic pain. | Photo: iStock

How to unravel the reason behind your horse’s head-scratching weight loss.

Is your horse showing some ribs? Is he failing to gain weight despite having all the forage he can eat? Is his energy lacking? Does he seem dull and apathetic?

Getting to the bottom of weight loss concerns in horses can require some diligent sleuthing on the part of you and your veterinarian. Sometimes the cause is unusual; sometimes it’s straightforward. But diagnosing the problem always starts with an intensive wellness exam. 

“Wellness care … includes a comprehensive physical exam taking vital signs, assessing body condition, soundness, and obtaining a thorough history,” says Harry Werner, VMD, past president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners and owner of Werner Equine, a veterinary practice in North Granby, Connecticut. “Weight loss issues are often picked up on during the wellness care visit

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Written by:

Nancy S. Loving, DVM, owns Loving Equine Clinic in Boulder, Colorado, and has a special interest in managing the care of sport horses. Her book, All Horse Systems Go, is a comprehensive veterinary care and conditioning resource in full color that covers all facets of horse care. She has also authored the books Go the Distance as a resource for endurance horse owners, Conformation and Performance, and First Aid for Horse and Rider in addition to many veterinary articles for both horse owner and professional audiences.

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