How to Keep Senior Horses Healthy
Keeping senior horses healthy is one of the biggest challenges of having horses. Here are a few of the biggest hurdles you will face with an older horse, and what to do.
- Teeth: One of the most common issues for senior horses is with their teeth. Horses’ teeth generally stop growing as they age. Once they wear down, the horse can no longer chew forage properly. Older horses are also more likely to have cracked and broken teeth. Dental problems cause many older horses to struggle with their weight, as they cannot chew adequately enough for their body to be able to digest their forage. Fortunately, pelleted feed can be mixed with water to make an easy-to-chew mash that replaces those lost calories.
- Cushings: The most common signs of Cushings includes a long, shaggy coat that doesn’t shed out in the spring, excessive thirst and urination, muscle wasting, and weight loss combined with a pot belly and crested neck. A blood test is used to diagnose Cushings, and medication can help manage the condition. Since Cushings horses are at a higher risk for laminitis (founder), diagnosing and managing the condition is especially important.
- Colic: Horses can colic at any age, but as they get older they become more sensitive to environmental factors, such rapid weather changes and other colic triggers. Maintaining a healthy diet and ensuring your senior horse gets plenty of fluids are the best ways to combat the chance of colic.
- Weight management: Senior horses often struggle with their weight as they age. “Hard keepers” have a hard time keeping weight on, while “easy keepers” can’t seem to keep the weight off. Skinny horses will have a difficult time regulating their body temperature in the cold, while overweight horses are more prone to laminitis, or founder. Vet care to determine the cause and an appropriately managed diet are especially important for these horses.
One of the most important ways to support senior horses is with good nutrition and calorie management. At Sacate Pellet Mills, we make several different kinds of feed, so that no matter what your horse’s needs, chances are we have a feed to fit. Contact us today to find the feed that’s right for your horse.