At what point do you call the vet? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 06-23-2019, 07:31 PM Thread Starter
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At what point do you call the vet?

My QH mare, Nala turned 24 in March. April 8th she saw the dentist who floated her a pulled a tooth. At that time, the dentist told me her teeth are at the stage of being rounded and that she should be given at least one feeding of alfalfa mash at this point.

Through the winter, I had my other mare boarded off site and Nala was kept company by a small goat. Nala was kept on senior grain and they both shared 3rd cutting grass hay, nice and heavy green. She had all that hay to herself (I'm a liberal feeder) so I'm thinking she's good!

Fast forward to beginning of May when Nala starts shedding out. At this point she was still getting good hay and the goat had left and my other mare came back. I thought things were good until, like I said, Nala started losing her coat and she was heartbreakingly THIN. I was/am HEARTBROKEN over this. I truly had no idea because her coat is always so thick.

I am still sick over it. Anyway, fast forward from then to now. I switched her to a performance feed with high fat (9%), alfalfa pellets, alfalfa cubes and still eating 2nd/3rd cutting hay. Here is her schedule and has been over the last two months (all of these things were given to her starting slow and increasing up to what I'm detailing below):

Mornings:
2.5 lbs. high fat grain
1 lb. alfalfa pellets
All soaked
10-15 lbs. hay (or more, whatever she can eat, although she isn't able be to chew it as good as she used to, but she does eat)

Afternoons:
Not sure how to measure alfalfa cubes but about 2 scoops dry and soaked in hot water. Bucket is fairly heavy.

Evenings:
Same as morning.

So total-- grain: 5 lbs. Alfalfa pellets: 2lbs. Alfalfa cubes: 10-15 lbs.? soaked. Hay: 15-20 lbs. PLUS, she has access to fresh grass on a side pasture that they've eaten almost all of.

Sometimes I add vegetable oil to her grain and some scoops of weight gain powder that I had left over.

At this point, on all these extra calories for 60 days, she has really put on weight. I do understand that it takes TIME. However, I'm still seeing ribs, and there is that ridge right above her tail and her thighs are still sunk. Granted, she is 24 and she has no muscle tone. I wasn't going to exercise her in her condition.

My question is, at what point do I call the vet? 90 days? 120 days? Just keep increasing her feed? I'm worried I'll overload her. She is on target with worming and farrier as well. She saw the vet last fall and has every year I've had her. She's ALWAYS been a relatively easy keeper and I understand their calorie needs can change, but can they change THIS much? Or is something medical possibly going on?

My game plan was to give her a solid 4 months since I know it can take months to put weight back on, especially a senior horse... and I tend to be a worrier anyhow.

Would love some thoughts and opinions on this as I refuse to let her enter into this winter underweight. Thank you guys!!
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post #2 of 11 Old 06-23-2019, 07:37 PM
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It's never a bad idea to involve a vet, but as long as she's gaining slowly but surely, it sounds like you can keep the feed where it is and then consider increasing it if she plateaus.
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post #3 of 11 Old 06-23-2019, 07:43 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by SteadyOn View Post
It's never a bad idea to involve a vet, but as long as she's gaining slowly but surely, it sounds like you can keep the feed where it is and then consider increasing it if she plateaus.
She is definitely increasing, thank goodness! Maybe I'm just being impatient? It feels like I'm feeding her A LOT. Like, more than any horse I've been around and I've worked at my fair share of barns, you know? Her caloric needs seem intense?
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post #4 of 11 Old 06-23-2019, 07:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joy Brock View Post
She is definitely increasing, thank goodness! Maybe I'm just being impatient? It feels like I'm feeding her A LOT. Like, more than any horse I've been around and I've worked at my fair share of barns, you know? Her caloric needs seem intense?
Consulting with your vet sounds like it would put your mind at ease. But as long as she's gaining I wouldn't be trying to rush things by throwing more and more food at her. That could create a problem that you don't currently have!
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post #5 of 11 Old 06-23-2019, 07:54 PM
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Gaining slowly is much healthier than gaining quickly. But, calling a very for reassurance is justifiable.
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post #6 of 11 Old 06-23-2019, 07:54 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by SteadyOn View Post
Consulting with your vet sounds like it would put your mind at ease. But as long as she's gaining I wouldn't be trying to rush things by throwing more and more food at her. That could create a problem that you don't currently have!
Yes! That's my fear, I'm just upping and upping the food and then what, colics? Ugh. I just don't want to hurt her. A phone call wouldn't hurt. My hesitancy (well PART of it) is the fact that I literally just paid $530 on my injured cat who ended up passing away anyway, and this right after my other mare went through a 5-month long allergic reaction requiring shots, steroids, creams, vet calls and visit 😞 so yeah, we are on a real close personal relationship with our vet 🤣
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post #7 of 11 Old 06-23-2019, 07:56 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by boots View Post
Gaining slowly is much healthier than gaining quickly. But, calling a very for reassurance is justifiable.
That has always been my thinking, slower is better? Like I had mentioned, I tend to be a worrier, so how slow (or fast) is good? But yeah, I'm thinking I should just call tomorrow, thank you so much!
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post #8 of 11 Old 06-23-2019, 11:46 PM
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If youre on good terms send them a picture and what she's eating and they will likely be willing to give you some advice over the phone.

Personally I think you panicked because you didn't expect her to be so thin (and do feel really well through the coat). She's on a good diet and is gaining well, I wouldn't make any changes at this time. Do NOT continue to increase her food unless you really think she needs it. If she has lost more muscle tone she may look worse then she is.

If her teeth are gone she will need to eat a LOT, but you're not there yet and most importantly keep an eye on her weight. Sometimes they just need the right balance and poof they're fat again. A few thoughts, why alfalfa cubes AND pellets? Also, alfalfa is great but it may unbalance the nutrients in her diet, I wouldn't feed much more then you are currently feeding. If you still think she needs more I would add in beet pulp vs upping what she's currently getting. Beet pulp does wonders for weight.

I had a horse at a similar age become a skeleton not long after seeing the dentist, it took us a bit to realize the problem was his teeth since the dentist had been out so recently. I guess just bad timing, he lost half of them after seeing the dentist. Nothing to do medically, but we did change his feed. He still got hay since he was able to safely need it, but wasn't able to eat enough to meet any sort of requirements so we substituted with timothy cubes. We also added in alfalfa (pellets or cubes don't remember) beet pulp, and senior feed plus a fat supplement I believe. He got the whole thing in a huge bucket of slop 3x a day. He looked better then he had in years! If she reaches that point she will need a LOT, but sounds like she's still doing well on her hay so I would just go one step at a time.

Let her tell you what she needs, sounds like she is doing really well.
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post #9 of 11 Old 06-25-2019, 09:07 AM
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Weight wise if those totals are per feeding she is being over loaded. Not calorie wise perhaps but timing wise. 4 to 6 smaller feedings. 3 at the least and free choice hay. I have found I can actually feed less calories spread over more feedings and they do better. You may want to look at an amino acid supplement though the alfalfa and senior feed usually supply good levels of necessary proteins.
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post #10 of 11 Old 06-25-2019, 11:02 AM
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When you say she's on target with de-worming - what exactly does that mean?
What de-wormers are you using? It could be that you aren't using the right active ingredient for the type of worms your horse has.


Is it possible that the horse is developing IR or Cushing's Disease - both can cause a horse to struggle to maintain weight?


I would want to get a blood check done if I thought I was feeding a horse plenty and it was still struggling with weight, if you're seeing some improvement you might be stressing over nothing but the cost of a visit and test is worth it if it gives you peace of mind or reveals something that can be treated

Just winging it is not a plan
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