Equine obesity

Equine veterinary nurse Sophie discusses equine obesity and how to help prevent horses from becoming overweight

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Equine obesity is a major problem. Research has shown that between 25-40% of riding horses are obese or overweight. Obesity can be the cause of many different health problems such as: laminitis, equine metabolic syndrome (EMS), reduced fertility, respiratory problems (asthma), arthritis and heart problems. Managing your animals weight and ensuring they do not become obese can help to protect them from these problems.

3 tips to help with weight loss;

Soaking hay

  • Soaking hay helps to draw out all the unnecessary sugars/calories
  • It has been recommended to sufficiently remove these sugars the hay should be soaked for around 12 hours.
  • Fresh water should be used each time to prevent the water becoming filled with sugar. This will stop the sugar being extracted from the next hay net
  • Once you soak a hay net, the sugary water should be disposed of and not used again.
  • Soaking hay can expel some necessary nutrients so we advise you to consult with your veterinary team

Hay nets

  • Double hay nets or small holed hay nets have shown to decrease forage intake.
  • Hay nets should be examined regularly to ensure there are no large holes made
  • This can help with managing your horses weight and to slow them down

Grazing muzzles

  • Grazing muzzles can prevent your horse from overindulging in the field but does not prevent them from being in the field having a nice time.
  • Reduce forage intake by 80% of body weight
  • In autumn horses can consume 1% of their body weight in around 3 hours
  • Providing your horse with a grazing muzzle can prevent them from gaining this unwanted weight

equine obesity

All these tips are dietary alterations and may benefit from veterinary advice and monitoring. Monitoring your horses weight to ensure they are losing weight at the recommended rate (the recommended weight loss rate is approximately 1% of body mass a week) and to ensure they do not need any additional supplements is essential.

At Scarsdale Vets we have an electronic weigh bridge . Our nurses are very enthusiastic and are keen to assist and give advice regarding weight management. We can provide you with a weight graph that can help to track your animals weight, show you how to correctly use a weigh tape and answer any questions you may have.

As always, if you are concerned about your horse and would like to book in with a vet, please don’t hesitate to contact the team

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