127 128 Managing the Underweight Horse into the intestines to be eliminated with the manure.
In older horses, wasting of muscle tissue may be a result of years of parasitic damage to the intestines, making it difficult for protein and other nutrients to be absorbed in adequate quantities.
Therefore, the animal becomes protein deficient and starts to break down its own muscle tissue to supply protein for essential body processes.
For this reason, diets formulated for senior horses typically have higher protein.
An effective deworming program should keep parasites from being a reason for weight loss.
Examination of fecal samples by a veterinarian will reveal the efficacy of a deworming program.
Deworming strategies should be discussed with a veterinarian who is familiar with regional parasite populations. TEETH If a horse is not maintaining weight, the first thing that should be checked is the condition of teeth.
Proper dentition is essential to a horse because of the nature of its diet.
Horses evolved eating coarse roughage and plant materials that require thorough grinding by the molars to break down the particle size of the food.
Enzymes and microbes of the gastrointestinal tract readily digest feedstuffs that have been crushed into minute particles.
Problems with dentition can have deleterious effects on the body condition of a horse.
Perhaps the most common dental problem is irritation or laceration of the cheek, tongue, or gums by sharp edges or points of the teeth.
Normal wear and tear induced by chewing can reshape the edges of the teeth, sometimes making them sharp enough to cut into the parts of the mouth they contact.
This makes chewing painful.
A horse with points will often reduce the quantity of feed consumed or will eat more slowly than normal.
Pain caused by points can be alleviated by floating the teeth, a procedure in which a dental rasp is used to smooth sharp edges.
A dental problem particular to young horses is the presence of caps that will not dislodge appropriately.
By the time a horse achieves maturity, it will have had two sets of teeth.
Immature horses possess deciduous or milk teeth that are gradually replaced by permanent teeth.
As permanent teeth erupt and grow, milk teeth are generally ousted.
In some instances, a portion of a milk tooth, a cap, may remain.
Caps can make chewing difficult and should be removed if discovered.
Young horses that roll feed in their mouths and spill feed from their mouths should have their teeth inspected for the presence of caps.
Infections in gums or teeth, cracked or broken teeth, and poor mouth conformation (severe parrot mouth or undershot jaw) can also cause reduced feed intake.
In aged horses, loss of molars is a primary concern when discerning a cause for weight loss.
As time takes its toll on the horse, dentition can become wavy and teeth may start to fall out.
When a horse does not properly grind his food because of molar loss or misalignment, the food enters the digestive tract in particles too large for proper breakdown by digestive enzymes in the small intestine K.
Crandell 129 and microbes in the large intestine and cecum.
If this is the case, feed is of little energetic benefit to the horse and weight loss will result.
Receding incisors, another problem common in aged horses, may cause difficulty in tearing grass when grazing.
Inadequate intake of forage will result.
Aged horses that have spent a lifetime cribbing may be doubly prone to receding incisors.
For these reasons many commercial senior feeds are designed to provide a complete diet, including forage, in small particle size.
These feeds can be softened with water and made into gruel so they do not require any chewing to be of benefit to the horse.
Careful observation of the eating habits of a horse will likely reveal a dentition problem.
Slow eating, reluctance to drink cold water, tilting the head while chewing, wallowing food around in the mouth before swallowing, balling up food in the mouth, and dropping food may indicate a tooth problem.
However, some horses may not exhibit abnormalities in food intake or mastication but may still be losing weight from a chronic tooth ailment.
Most equine veterinarians are knowledgeable in proper dental care and can perform a thorough examination of the mouth.
In areas of the country with exceptionally large horse populations, an equine dentist may be available to diagnose and alleviate dental quandaries.
If the problems are permanent (as in tooth loss), adjustments of the diet should be made to address the problem. DIGESTIVE TRACT PROBLEMS Any physiological problem that keeps food from getting to the intestines for absorption can cause weight problems.
If swallowing is painful or difficult, the horse will not want to eat.
Things that may cause problems with swallowing could be nerve damage from equine protozoal myelitis (EPM), obstructions from abscesses or strangles, and muscle weakness caused by hyperkalemic periodic paralysis (HYPP) or botulism.
Partial esophageal obstruction can occur from abnormal growths, scar tissue from an episode of choking, or a foreign object lodged in the throat.
Esophageal obstruction narrows the passageway for food, making it difficult for the horse to swallow.
Horses that have chronic choke may have an esophageal obstruction that instigates the problem.
The only way to effectively diagnose esophageal narrowing is by endoscopic exam or x-ray.
If there is no way to clear the obstruction, dietary adjustments should be made so that the type of food offered is easily swallowed.
Gastric ulcers can cause reduced appetite in horses because of a painful or uncomfortable stomach.
The end result is a horse who is not able to consume enough calories to maintain weight.
The incidence of ulcers in horses is surprisingly high.
Surveys done on performance horses have found ulcers in about 80% of racehorses in training and as many as 50% in other types of performance horses.
Horses that live on pasture most of the day rarely develop ulcers.
Gastric ulcers develop in the horse when the acidity of the stomach is too high.
The main precipitants for gastric ulcers in horses are a high grain and low forage diet, meal 130 Managing the Underweight Horse feeding instead of continuous forage availability, overtraining, and other stresses of a performance schedule.
Signs associated with gastric ulcers are irritability, picky eater, chronic colic, diarrhea, and inability to gain weight.
Some horses have all of the signs, some have only one, and some do not exhibit any, yet have the problem.
Medications have been developed to help heal gastric ulcers, and antacids are currently being marketed to prevent gastric acid accumulation in the stomach.
Antacids can also be used to prevent ulcers from occurring or recurring.
Problems that can occur in the small intestine, large intestine, and cecum may influence the nutrient absorption.
Chronic diarrhea can contribute directly to weight loss because nutrients move too quickly through the digestive tract, thereby escaping absorption.
There are many causes of diarrhea in the horse.
Countless bacteria reside in the equine digestive tract, and a delicate balance exists between bacterial types.
If the balance of the different types shifts, the ecosystem in the hindgut can disintegrate.
Dysfunction of the bacteria may result in the inability of digesta to be broken down into small enough particles for absorption.
Inadequately digested feed often results in diarrhea.
Viruses can also disrupt the health of the bacterial population of the hindgut and cause detrimental effects.
Viral and bacterial pathogens can induce damage and sloughing of the intestinal lining.
No magic potion is marketed which will return the bacterial population of the hindgut to a state of normalcy, but there are a few products that may help.
Probiotics are frequently used to help repopulate the gut with beneficial bacteria.
One oldfashioned probiotic recipe called for a bucket of feces from a healthy horse mixed with water.
The preparation was then given to the horse through a nasogastric tube.
Today, there are neater, but not necessarily more effective, ways to rebalance the microbe population of the hindgut.
Endurance enthusiasts have been known to feed yogurt with live cultures to their horses for the probiotic effect.commercial probiotic pastes or liquids with Lactobacillus and/or Streptococcus faecium are available, as are bagged products with yeasts and probiotics designed as daily supplements.
Probiotics are very useful when a horse has been stressed by trailering, change of home, deworming, or antibiotic treatment.
When there is no apparent reason for a horse to have a problem putting on weight, sometimes just the addition of probiotics and yeast supplement to the diet will bring the horse around. DISEASE Chronic and acute disease can interfere with the horse’s ability to maintain weight.
Many diseases affect the body by disturbing protein use.
Without proper amounts of protein, the body cannot rebuild damaged tissues, make transport proteins that carry other nutrients through the blood to target sites, make clotting factors for blood, and carry on a host of other physiological functions.
When the body cannot get enough protein from the diet, it begins to break down the existing protein in the body to use for its most important functions.
Muscle is the most abundant storehouse of protein in the body.
Muscle wasting is an indicator of protein
Read more about Parrot Mouth : Infections in gums or teeth cracked or broken teeth and….: