Perplexing problems with my horse - eating disorder - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 10-25-2012, 06:47 AM Thread Starter
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Angry Perplexing problems with my horse - eating disorder

I have a 9 year old show horse, 7/8 TB 3/8 Irish draught, light type 15.2 hands, he was diagnosed with metabolic disorder some 4 years ago, and some other issues, he was recovering well on new management, and then hurt his foot and had to be box rested, he formed an obsession with water, and was peeing excessively, not eating grain or hay, and on restricted grass, extreme weight loss and was diagnosed with aneroxia and also we were advised that his problem with over drinking was in his head, not physical. We rationed his water, however this made the problem worse as he became obsessed even more with water, he would drink rather than eat.

Intially we were told he could only be on grass out of the sun, due to the
sugars, but last year we took the decision, as he not longer had laminitas etc. that we would put him out to grass for the summer with some
young stock and he was also give steroids and vB to encourage his
appetite, this seemed to work, but it would appear now that this was
more a steroidal affect, as as soon as these were stopped he went backwards which is often the case.

We took him home, and began feeding him again and he began to improve
although he lost weight during the winter months. As he began to gain weight again in the summer, we have been working him lightly on the lunge, over poles etc. and his muscle has begun to improve, as he was
completely wasted with no muscle tone whatever. He is enjoyed his
work, and has been ridden on occasion just light work, by a very light weight rider.

He is out in the day, and he grazes all day long, he was
eating his hard feed and some haylage up to two days ago, but now he
has gone back to not eating when in his stable, but there is not enough good in the grass at this time of year to sustain a healthy weight.

He has been fully checked over by vets and has stays in two different Vet Hospitals in the period and they can find nothing physically wrong with him
has anyone any suggestions, or come across some like this before.

I live in County Wicklow in Ireland.

24th October 2011
gabi kennedy is offline  
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post #2 of 11 Old 10-25-2012, 08:12 AM
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Anorexia is a refusal to eat out of a fear of getting fat. I don't think horses worry about that :)

I would have his insulin levels checked.
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post #3 of 11 Old 10-25-2012, 08:17 AM
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Hi Gabi. It would probably helpful to the other posters here if you give details about what physical ailments have been ruled out - ie. what he has been tested for, and cleared of. Insulin levels is the obvious one as suggested by DancingA, but as he has had two stays in horsepital I'm sure they've done other tests.
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post #4 of 11 Old 10-25-2012, 08:28 AM
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What are his medications that he is getting for his metabolic disorder? I'm assuming that is meaning IR or the like? Excessive drinking and peeing and loss of appetite sounds just like diabetes in humans. I highly douby horses can get anorexia....

This horse sounds IR to me and therefore should have a diet to reflect that along with possible medications.

A horse with IR can't have sugars just because of laminitis, it will cause an inbalance with insulin. So if the vets told you to follow a diet of low sugar grass I don't see why you would choose to ignore that?
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post #5 of 11 Old 10-25-2012, 08:36 AM
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He has been fully checked over by vets and has stays in two different Vet Hospitals in the period and they can find nothing physically wrong with him
I interpret that to mean they did a CBC (complete blood work-up) that also included checking this horse's insulin level, thryoid, and ACTH for cushings?

If had to guess, I would say the metabolic issues have reared their ugly head in a major way. Metabolic issues never go away, they just go into remission and lay there waiting to cause more problems, as the horse ages.

I have two metabolic horses; one is an excessive sweater, drinks a LOT of water and eats a LOT of salt. However, he has not gone off his feed or hay.

Since you've done the absolute right thing by involving not one, but two separate vet facilities and still have no answer, I would hunt down a qualified hollistic vet. I don't know how common they are where you live; I have two in my area and both went to traditional vet school. They practice a combination of traditional science and also take the hollistic/herbal approach.

I would get him completely off grain or grain products. No soy either<--tough to do as soy is the protein source in 99% of horse feeds and supplements.

While my 25 yr old with metabolic issues does not have problems eating, he has problems digesting everything and that may be where your problem lies. Horses don't get anorexia, as someone else has commented.

My 25 yo has hind gut ulcers and strangulating lipomas in the GI tract. All he can eat is rice bran with half cup of apples and carrots run thru the blender, some Omega-3 Horseshine (flax) and chastetree.

That's it but he needs his vitamins/minerals I solved that by feeding him a high dose liquid vitamin. It only takes one ounce of that liquid vitamin to give him what he needs. He is doing very well, so far.

The issue sounds very serious. I also wouldn't be surprised if the horse has either gastric or hind gut ulcers, or some sort of stagnation issue in the digestive system. I can't believe you've had your horse to two vet hospitals and nobody has an answer. I mean, I believe YOU, I'm just amazed nobody with a degree is coming up with an answer.

Which is why I suggest looking into a hollistic vet and possibly even herbal treatments to get this horse back eating again. With you being in Ireland and me in the U.S., I'm at a loss for resources for you.

You'll have to do some leg work involving big training barns of any breed, race tracks, etc. Folks at these types of facilities are generally very willing to help a fellow horseman.

Good luck and please keep us updated
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post #6 of 11 Old 10-25-2012, 08:46 AM
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Whether or not there is grass can you not put him back on pasture and offer him hay? Most horses prefer to live outside. Just walking about the pasture improves digestion. Since he has had laminitis this is a good time of year to turn him out as the grasses aren't actively growing. The danger time is cool nights and hot days. I have often filled small mesh hay nets and tossed them out, on clean areas altho then the horse gets to pawing them. It is easier on the net if it is hung as high as you can reach as it will drop down some. Two nets hung well apart encourages the horse to move back and fourth. He has to nibble the hay which is better for digestion as it slows down the intake.
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post #7 of 11 Old 10-26-2012, 12:17 AM
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Originally Posted by DancingArabian View Post
Anorexia is a refusal to eat out of a fear of getting fat. I don't think horses worry about that :)

I would have his insulin levels checked.
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Anorexia is a medical term that essentially means "not eating". You are referring to Anorexia Nervosa. Anorexia can have a multitude of causes in both animals and humans. Chronic nausea, pain, depression, anxiety, tumors, eshageal reflux, just to name a few. The psychiatric disorder of distorted body image is only one possible cause, that, as you said, is likely limited to humans.
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post #8 of 11 Old 10-26-2012, 12:24 AM
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To take the easy way, have you tried keeping him outside and supplying hay? If he stops eating when you stall him, I would do whatever I could to make sure he was never put in a stall.
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post #9 of 11 Old 10-26-2012, 02:07 AM
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While my first thoughts are also re what he has/hasn't been tested for & IR, hindgut acidosis, ulcers, etc, if the horse wasn't used to being stabled & stressed excessively when on 'box rest', psychological problems could be a cause/contributor. Horses do often suffer extreme stress when cooped up & develop a range of 'vices' because of it. So I agree with all of the above suggestions.
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post #10 of 11 Old 10-26-2012, 04:02 AM
Green Broke
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It sounds like Cushings disease (excessive drinking / peeing)? The drug to treat that in this counrty is Prescend (used to be Pergolide). Hope you find an answer
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