Horse Rescue: Rehabbing Underweight Horses

Underweight animals are common in horse rescue. Whether they’ve been removed from a bad situation or relinquished, as many of the horses you see at auction have been, many of these horses have seen hard times. Sometimes the horses in rescue are victims of neglect, while other times their owners didn’t know how to meet their aging or sick horses’ needs.

Have you rescued an underweight horse? Here are three steps for rehabilitating underweight horses.

  • Get a vet involved.  If the horse is significantly underweight, a veterinarian’s expertise is crucial. A vet can perform a thorough exam and identify any issues that could be contributing to the horse’s lack of weight. If the horse has parasites, a dental issue, ulcers, or another problem that is causing weight loss, the problem will need to be treated before the horse can gain weight.
  • Determine diet needs. A veterinarian can also be helpful in determining how much to safely feed while you’re trying to put weight on your horse.  Your veterinarian may also have special recommendations, such as feeding mashes of softened pellets if the horse is older or has ongoing dental problems. Supplements may also be needed to make up for any nutritional deficiencies the horse had when you rescued him.
  • Add in exercise slowly. A horse that has been severely neglected will likely need some time to eat, gain weight, and recover. Once he reaches a safe weight, however, slowly putting the horse back to work can benefit the horse’s body as well as his mind. The exercise will help him build back muscle, and the mental stimulation will keep him from getting restless and bored as he starts regaining energy. Once again, your vet can help you determine how much exercise to add and when.

Be Patient

Now comes one of the hardest parts of horse rescue: waiting. It can take a long time for underweight horses to gain weight, but rest assured that you’re doing the right thing by providing him with proper nutrition and vet care.

Are you rehabilitating an old, sick, or neglected horse? Don’t feel like you have to go it alone. For more information on our pelleted feeds and how they can be a part of your rehab plan, contact Sacate Pellet Mills today.