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What To Feed A Horse With Cushing'S To Gain Weight

What To Feed A Horse With Cushing'S To Gain Weight

When it comes to managing a horse with Cushing's disease, one of the primary concerns is ensuring they maintain a healthy weight. The hormonal imbalances caused by this condition can lead to weight loss, making it essential for horse owners to closely monitor their equine's diet and find the perfect balance. In this guide, we'll delve into the world of Cushing's disease and discuss the ideal diet to help your horse regain and maintain its weight.

What To Feed A Horse With Cushing'S To Gain Weight Table of Contents

Understanding Cushing's Disease in Horses

Weight Gain Goals for Horses with Cushing's Disease

Understanding Cushing's Disease in Horses

Cushing's disease, also known as Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction (PPID), is an endocrine disorder that affects the pituitary gland located at the base of the brain. This gland regulates hormones, including the stress hormone cortisol, which affects metabolism and several vital functions in the body. Horses suffering from Cushing's disease typically exhibit signs like:

  • Long, curly hair coat that doesn't shed
  • Excessive sweating
  • Increased thirst and appetite
  • Muscle loss and weight loss
  • Recurrent infections
  • Laminitis

Weight Gain Goals for Horses with Cushing's Disease

The goal should always be to maintain a healthy weight for your horse, which might include weight gain for horses that have lost weight due to Cushing's disease. Factors to consider include:

  • A balanced diet with proper nutrients
  • Medical management of their Cushing's disease
  • Exercise and environmental management

Diet and Nutrient Recommendations

To help a horse with Cushing's disease gain weight, it's essential to provide them with a diet that caters to their specific needs. Here are some key factors to consider:

  • High-quality hay: Supply your horse with high-quality, clean hay that meets their calorie and fiber requirements. Alfalfa or mixed grass hays can help provide extra calories for weight gain.
  • Controlled carbohydrates: Since many horses with Cushing's disease are prone to laminitis, controlling the carbohydrate content is crucial. Choose a low non-structural carbohydrate (NSC) hay, and soak it if necessary to further reduce its sugar content.
  • Fortified feeds: Opt for low-NSC, high-calorie feeds that are specifically formulated for Cushing's horses. These feeds usually contain a balanced ratio of protein, vitamins, and minerals to support overall health.
  • Fat supplements: Adding a fat supplement (such as vegetable oil or flaxseed) can help to provide additional calories and healthy fats for a horse needing to gain weight.
  • Protein supplementation: Ensure that your horse is receiving adequate protein to support muscle recovery and development.
  • Vitamin and mineral supplementation: Consult with your veterinarian to determine the appropriate balance of vitamins and minerals in your horse's diet, as some may require additional supplementation.

What To Feed A Horse With Cushing'S To Gain Weight Example:

Imagine you have a 1,000-pound horse with Cushing's disease that needs to gain 100 pounds. To help them achieve this goal, you could make the following adjustments to their diet:

  • Offer 20 pounds of good-quality hay and consider adding alfalfa (make sure to monitor protein levels as alfalfa is high in protein)
  • Soak the hay for 30 minutes to an hour prior to feeding to reduce carbohydrate content
  • Feed a low-NSC, high-calorie diet designed for Cushing's horses, such as Purina WellSolve Weight Control or Nutrena SafeChoice Special Care
  • Add 1-2 cups of vegetable oil or flaxseed to their feed daily for added calories and healthy fats
  • Supplement their diet with a quality protein source, such as soybean meal or alfalfa pellets
  • Consult with your veterinarian about proper vitamin and mineral supplementation to support health and immune function

Monitor your horse's weight regularly and adjust their diet as needed to ensure they're gaining weight at a healthy rate.

Managing a horse with Cushing's disease can pose challenges, but with careful attention to their dietary needs, you can help your horse find their path to a healthy weight. Reach out to your veterinarian for personalized guidance and support. Be sure to share this article with fellow horse owners who may be facing the same challenges, and explore the other guides here at How to Own a Horse to keep learning about your equine friend's optimal care.

how to own a horse clare
Clare Dean

Meet Clare Dean, a revered authority in the equine world. With over 15 years of horse breeding experience, Clare's profound knowledge extends beyond the paddock to encompass all aspects of horse care and riding. Clare's journey began with a passion for these majestic creatures, evolving into a career marked by rich, hands-on experiences. Clare's expertise doesn't just stem from theoretical knowledge, but from countless hours spent in the saddle and the stable. She has bred and cared for multiple horse breeds, infusing her with a deep understanding of their diverse needs and behaviors. Not just a horse breeder, Clare is also an accomplished rider, skilled in various riding styles. Her riding proficiency, combined with her breeding acumen, makes her a well-rounded equine expert. At heart, Clare is a lifelong learner, continually seeking to grow her knowledge and share her insights with fellow horse enthusiasts. Through her writings, she offers a unique blend of practical advice, scientific knowledge, and personal anecdotes, aiming to guide, inspire, and educate readers on their equine journey. Trust Clare Dean to provide reliable, expert advice on your path to horse ownership and care.

About Clare Dean

Meet Clare Dean, a revered authority in the equine world. With over 15 years of horse breeding experience, Clare's profound knowledge extends beyond the paddock to encompass all aspects of horse care and riding. Clare's journey began with a passion for these majestic creatures, evolving into a career marked by rich, hands-on experiences. Clare's expertise doesn't just stem from theoretical knowledge, but from countless hours spent in the saddle and the stable. She has bred and cared for multiple horse breeds, infusing her with a deep understanding of their diverse needs and behaviors. Not just a horse breeder, Clare is also an accomplished rider, skilled in various riding styles. Her riding proficiency, combined with her breeding acumen, makes her a well-rounded equine expert. At heart, Clare is a lifelong learner, continually seeking to grow her knowledge and share her insights with fellow horse enthusiasts. Through her writings, she offers a unique blend of practical advice, scientific knowledge, and personal anecdotes, aiming to guide, inspire, and educate readers on their equine journey. Trust Clare Dean to provide reliable, expert advice on your path to horse ownership and care.

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