Mixing up a tasty hard feed for your horse gives you a nice, warm, fuzzy feeling. Yet, when you present your lovingly prepared meal he turns his head away!
Your horse refusing to eat can be very frustrating and stressful, especially when travelling and away at competition. If your horse isn’t eating, he isn’t obtaining the nutrients he needs to remain healthy, maintain condition and perform at his best.
While a picky eater might make you want to tear your hair out, it’s important to establish why he’s refusing to eat. There are many factors that can cause poor appetite in horses. It is best to determine the underlying cause, as issues such as poor dental health, stress, pain, illness and digestive conditions can significantly affect the welfare of your horse.
Consult Your Vet!
First and foremost, you should discuss potential reasons for poor appetite with your vet. Many illnesses are accompanied by a refusal to eat. Performing blood tests to evaluate organ function can help rule out an underlying infection.
Annual dental visits are essential. Sharp points can form on the molars, which damage the horse’s tongue and cheeks. Aged horses or those with poor mouth conformation may require more regular maintenance.
The Stress Factor
Stress is a common cause of inappetence. Remember that horses are social animals. It’s important to house your horse with compatible companions and allow visual/physical contact when stabling. Sensitive horses can experience anxiety when separated from their paddock companions, which can significantly affect appetite. Travel, competition and intense physical training are other stressors that may decrease appetite.
Digestive conditions are extremely common in performance horses. Equine gastric ulcer syndrome (EGUS) can be very painful due to lesions on the stomach lining. Think about how sore a tiny ulcer in your mouth is and imagine having numerous ulcers in your stomach. The thought is enough to put anyone off their feed! Hindgut imbalances resulting in a decrease in pH can also cause abdominal discomfort. In these situations, often adjustments in feeding and management practices are required to improve gut health.
All feed should be good quality, fresh and clean. Old, mouldy forage and feedstuff will be unpalatable to your horse. Some feed ingredients such as amino acids and minerals have a yucky
taste. Finicky eaters will also be sensitive to changes in their feed. It is best to gradually introduce a new feed or supplement and you may need to add something tasty to mask the new smell/taste.
If you have ruled out these factors as a cause for your horse’s inappetence, an appetite stimulant could prove effective in encouraging food consumption.
Kelato’s AppeTITE is a highly palatable, cherry flavoured liquid that appeals to horses, stimulates their appetite and encourages them to eat.
Performance horses fed high grain, low forage diets are at greater risk of B vitamin deficiency. Using the perfect balance of sweetness for increased palatability in combination with vitamins B1, B2, B6 and B12, which play a role in general metabolism, AppeTITE assists with the maintenance of normal appetite and bodyweight. The slight acidity of AppeTITE also causes the horse to lick and produce saliva, stimulating him to eat.
AppeTITE is a liquid formula that can be used on a daily basis to increase the appetite of picky eaters or strategically for normally good eaters who have gone off their feed. For problem horses, a small dose of AppeTITE can be administered by syringe directly into the mouth.
AppeTITE’s Feature and Benefits
• Improves horses’ eating habits
• Easy to use – no injections
• Highly palatable cherry flavour
• Effect is instant
• Can be used daily
• A healthy appetite can help reduce the risk of digestive conditions
Click image to find out more about AppeTITE