Diseases That Affect Nutrient Delivery in Horses

Watch for these conditions that impact nutrient absorption and lead to weight loss in horses.

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Diseases That Affect Nutrient Delivery in Horses
If your horse is consuming ample high-quality forage and feed, yet continues to lose weight and look unthrifty, a small intestinal disease might be affecting nutrient delivery within his body. | Photo: Alexandra Beckstett/The Horse

Watch for these conditions that impact nutrient absorption and lead to weight loss

In some situations no matter how much a horse consumes, he still loses weight and appears unthrifty. Because most nutrient absorption occurs in the small intestine, any disease syndrome that impacts that area is likely to affect nutrient delivery within the body.

In this article we’ll describe six conditions veterinarians would suspect if your horse isn’t absorbing nutrients properly.

What’s Going on Inside?

When a horse eats, food moves from the stomach to the small intestines into the cecum, before passing into the large colon. Anything that doesn’t get absorbed passes as feces. Here, however, we’ll focus on the part of the gastrointestinal tract chiefly responsible for nutrient absorption: the small intestine

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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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