Keeping Horses Fit as They Age

Keeping Horses Fit as They Age

The key to caring for the older horse is to understand how the horse’s body changes and how those changes impact their needs. Similar to humans, as equines age they may develop a variety of health issues that need to be monitored and addressed.[emember_protected custom_msg=”Click here and register now to read the rest of the article!”]

Changes in nutritional needs, the development of arthritis, vision, dental, immune response, and hormonal changes may affect the horse’s health. Many conditions are easy to manage but you need to pay extra attention to slight changes in your aging equine companion. Yearly veterinary appointments are a great way to get your horse a health check-up. At that time, you can ask any questions related to changes you have noticed and your vet can do a thorough check-up to make sure your horse’s eyes, teeth, skin, body condition, etc. are normal and appropriate for your horse.

Weight is a common problem in older horses. Too fat can lead to endocrine problems, lameness or even respiratory problems. Too thin means your horse is not getting enough nutrients to stay healthy and therefore gets sick or may already have an underlying medical issue. Whether it’s a dental problem, decreased ability to absorb nutrients, or poor vision, all these issues need to be addressed so you can have the most amount of time with your equine companion.

Catching problems at the early stages can mean less expensive treatment costs, stopping or slowing disease processes, and more importantly avoiding pain and suffering in your horse. Horses may live into their late 20s or early 30s, a relatively long time compared to other companion animals. Older horses can live a productive life and can continue on in a variety of careers as long as they are well cared for. Keep a close eye on your aging horse and be proactive on their health care needs.

CREDITS

column by DR. KATIE HENNESSY

BIO: Dr. Katie Hennessy graduated from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine in 2008 with a degree in large animal health and equine medicine. After completing an advanced internship and working as an Associate Veterinarian, she is currently practicing at Polk Equine, LLC. Her expertise ranges from small and exotic creatures to large animals, specializing in equine medicine. [/emember_protected]