Horses are animals that love to eat and require plenty of food to sustain themselves. To give a number, around 15-16 pounds! They mostly live on grass, plants, and hay. However, for certain reasons, their diets can come to a halt.
And those reasons can be categorized into many aspects like diet issues, physical and so on. That’s why in this article, we will tell you all the possible reasons why a horse stops eating, with some bonus solutions towards the end.
As we mentioned earlier, horses may stop eating for many factors: Physical, Mental, or Diet conditions. Let’s break down each of them.
Physical issues can include injuries and medical problems. Certain injuries can cause different medical issues, which might need a serious checkup. At Animal Vivid, you can find medical as well as much other valuable information that will help you take care of your horse(s) much better.
A horse can stop eating after an injury due to the pain that comes with it. They could feel a sense of pain and discomfort, which might lead to them not being able to eat. At first, it is important to know where the injury occurred. Next, take them to a vet and get a proper treatment plan or medications for their recovery. It is an easy issue that can be solved, so do not fret!
Horses, like humans, can get sick from many common health problems due to certain changes in lifestyle. Some of them are listed below:
Diarrhea can have a big impact on your horse’s poor eating habits. It is a severe condition where stool is extremely runny and caused by infections, changes in diet, inflammation, and so on.
It will not be a problem if it’s not too severe. However, diarrhea can weaken the horse and cause severe dehydration if not taken control. It is also a messy situation to deal with, so making sure that the horse stays healthy is vital. Make sure to take them to a vet if the discharge doesn’t improve or the horse starves for more than 2 days.
Colic is a condition where there is a lot of pain in the abdominal area. This causes the intestines to inflate or twist, which can bring a lot of discomfort.
A horse may have a hard time eating since its digestive system is attacked due to this condition. Some general symptoms include sweating, distress, bloating, signs of crying, and rolling around. Again, get to a vet for further investigation.
Gastric Ulcers are a common reason why horses may stop eating. It can form by performing highly intensive actions with an empty belly, improper diet foods, and medications.
It is an uncomfortable feeling, which can lead to a loss of appetite, and you may find your horse having trouble eating. So it is important to include food that can combat gastric situations, like alfalfa hay, red-colored foods, and so on, that can neutralize the gas formed.
Refrain horses from performing riding or running without eating, and again, a vet can further prescribe medications to combat this issue.
Dental problems are another reason why horses might stop eating. To digest their food, they need to chew it properly and if that mechanism isn’t in good working condition, it won’t work.
A horse may stop eating due to the amount of pain the teeth cause while chewing. This can be caused due to cavities, deficiencies, and poor hygiene.
First, please ensure their dental hygiene is being maintained; second, talk to a specialist or a vet about possible treatments to combat it and how they should take care of their teeth. It is really common for a horse’s dental diagnostics to go unnoticed since most people don’t pay attention to them.
Don’t be one of them, and always schedule frequent dental appointments to get your teeth floated, checked, and any harsh teeth to be removed.
Now, let’s talk about the mentality issues for which a horse may stop eating:
If your horse is a picky eater, then it might be a problem. If you’re introducing a new food in their diet and worrying whether it will respond to it or not, try mixing it slowly with the stuff they already like and work up their tolerance level. As time goes on, they will get used to the taste and welcome the new feed in their diet. Try to keep their favorite foods consistently.
The Separation Anxiety
Animals and Humans are no different when it comes to having people. Horses, too, like being in a herd of familiar faces to be in a good mood. Over time, they can form a bond that makes them happy to be around their presence. Being away from them (if you recently got yourself a horse) makes it develop an anxiety of separation that causes them to be sad, followed by a loss of appetite.
They might get stressed and depressed and grow frantic about loneliness and vent it on their food. This is commonly witnessed if you bring them far away or just keep them away from a group of other horses.
A quick solution to this is to introduce the horse to other horses, and if you have multiple of them, try to keep them all together.
If your horse is on one diet every day, it might get boring, and you just give up on it. A simple solution is changing it up and introducing them to new food, methods, and treats to keep them excited for more!
Bullying occurs…everywhere, including the stables. Some horses can cause mischief for other horses that can make them lose their appetite since they become distressed.
These bullying horses will kick, bite and hurt them in any way they can and cause serious injuries also.
Though bullying is something that can’t be stopped by itself since it’s naturally developed and removed, distancing those horses away is a solution. Distracting the bully with work can help too.
Horses that are used to having intense workloads can have a loss of appetite at times. It is due to routine change and fatigue. Don’t stress the horse out with a big meal, and ensure they get a proper rest time too. Make small changes so that they can easily adjust.
Bad food and improper transitioning to new diets make the horse lose its appetite. Always make sure the feed your horse is getting is high quality. Never mess with it since it is vital to combat medical issues as well. If the horse doesn’t react well to the feed currently being used, consider changing it.
And introduce a new diet by making gradual changes. The transition period is necessary. Otherwise, they will reject any new food because they aren’t familiar with it.
How Do You Get Your Horse to Eat?
Since we talked about why a horse stops eating, let’s talk about how we can fix it. First, make sure their necessities are in proper condition. They must have access to clean water and good quality goods at all times.
Always keep your horse’s bucket full of water and check their water needs every day. At times loss of appetite can come with dehydration as well.
Next up, if your horse is having trouble eating a feast portion of food, break it down into manageable short meals a day. On sick days, it is better to supply the horse with too much food but rather introduce small bites of food till they feel better. This also helps in proper digestion and makes sure they are eating their food correctly.
Never compromise the quality of the feed you’re using. The feed must have a proper balance of grains that can fill the belly up and be packed with nutrients as well. It is important to look into high-quality feeds and implement them in their diet.
Lastly, as you moderate them through this journey, watch how they are eating. Are the recent measures improving their eating habits? If it is still a no, then always talk to your vet. Before carrying out any solution, talk to them about the complications or risks. Have them set out a proper plan to make sure the horse can eat well. Sometimes the problem might be underlying inside, and only a vet could investigate it thoroughly.
Here you go, a list of all the reasons your farm friend may stop eating. These can be treated with proper conditions and care. However, make sure to visit a vet or make your doctor visit those animals frequently. Let those cool rides begin! Thank you for reading, yeehaw!