Feeding a horse who won’t eat

Last fall one of my clients consulted with me on her Arab gelding, Bud. Bud had been losing weight for several months despite regular deworming and teeth floating. He had recently been treated for an impaction colic and although recovered from that his appetite had not picked up. Now Bud was several hundred pounds under weight, lethargic and off feed.

Bud’s blood work showed low protein levels and high fibrinogen levels indicating chronic inflammation. With cold weather coming I felt the most important thing was to get some nutrition in Bud. Linda was willing to do whatever was needed so I suggested starting Bud on an oral mix of 1 quart karo syrup, 1 quart corn oil and 1 pint molasses. Two ounces of this mix was syringed into bud’s mouth 4 times a day. In addition, 1 pack of algae, probiotics and enzymes were mixed in each feeding to support digestion. This is a very messy process but it gets enough nutrition in the body to support organ function and keep the cells lining the digestive tract nourished.

After several weeks Bud began to pick at his food. Linda tried him on every feed we cold think of but he just did not have much appetite. He would pick at alfalfa so Linda kept that in front of him. We added aloe and slippery elm to his mix to help heal possible ulcers. Linda tried keeping Bud in the pasture with his friends or in a stall where he could have privacy but neither seemed to help his appetite. I started doing Bowen treatments on Bud which he enjoyed very much. After trying several homeopathic treatments I settled on pulsitilla 6c daily.

We dewormed Bud with a 5 day power pac regimen even though he had had multiple negative fecal checks. I have found the power pac seems to have an anti inflammatory effect on the gut and it kills pathogenic bacteria and yeasts. We also added Xango juice and glutathione to Bud’s feeding program. Bud was now, after several months of nursing care, eating several pounds a day of senior feed and about a flake of alfalfa and no longer needed his oil mix. Linda consulted with a medical intuitive who confirmed our treatment plan.

The combination of pulsitilla, deworming, body work, a new companion and nutritional support began to pay off and Bud started gaining weight and attitude. A mare from the neighboring pasture got into his pasture and he fell head over heels in love. Bud’s blood work stabilized and gradually improved. The inflammation in his gut was healing and he was able to digest and assimilate again. After several weeks the pulsitilla was stopped but the essentials and glutathione were continued.

I saw Bud last Monday and his weight was normal even though he still did not have good muscle tone. He was perky and his coat looked very good. He had a great attitude and was back to his old behaviors. Linda is going to start trail riding him a little. Bud is so lucky to have had someone who cared so much for him. He is 21 years old and it would have been easy to let him go rather than put the effort into helping him. I have no idea what triggered the inflammation in Bud’s digestive tract but he sure was an interesting case. Madalyn

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About Madalyn Ward, DVM

This blog provides information based on my unique take on horse health and well being. The articles are based on experience of treating and working with horses for over 40 years. In most cases the articles are focused on an holistic approach to health and management. When conventional medicine offers good research or therapy, I share this information as well. Madalyn Ward, DVM

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