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Old 01-31-2010, 04:44 PM  
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Exclamation Old horse won't eat

My horse is around 40 years old. She has recently decided she doesn't like food. This has persisted for around a month now. It is cold but she has plenty of coats, the vet has seen her on numerous occasions and tried all they possibly can on the medical front. The problem is, she just will not eat. We have tried sweet thing, bread, buns, cookies, polos, molasses, apple chaf, honey, liquidising it, heating it, putting sugar in it and NOTHING is working. On a few clear days we put her in the garden with rich grass and she grazed most of the day but then went off it the following day. It is the regular pattern; indulge for 5 minutes then never eat it again.
We have exhausted everything we can think of but cannot get her to eat and she is losing alot of weight. She seems very happy and content though.
Please help, i am really at a dead end with what to try. We just have to get her to eat!!!
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Old 02-01-2010, 09:38 AM  
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first. congrats on having a such an old horse. they can be very hard to take care of.
second... she may be telling you its time for her to go.

if she is refusing to eat and you cant find anything medically wrong with her.. stones, ulcers, teeth, digestion, et she may just be tired and ready to go. best to put her down humanly then see her slowly starve to death.
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Old 02-01-2010, 10:25 AM  
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I sure would like to see a picture of her???
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Old 02-01-2010, 10:35 AM  
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Wow, amazing to have a horse live to that age, I don't think I have heard of it before. How wonderful to have had her that long a combination or fabulous genetics and good care. It is hard to say what is going on with her, teeth, mouth, she could have liver or kidney failure and just doesn't feel well in her gut. Have you had a blood panel run on her? That could probably clear up a lot of questions.

Realistically, she could just be coming to the end of her life. Lots of elderly critters just don't eat much. It is just a way of slowly letting go of their time on Earth. I might be tempted to spend the money on the blood panel and then just love her and spoil that girl until the end.

Big Hugs to you and that good old girl...
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Old 02-01-2010, 03:57 PM  
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Between the ages of 33-35 my old girl would stop eating. Most of the time a B vitamin shot worked, a couple of times it took a steroid shot. But that was all it would take, by the next day she would start eating and keep going for many months. I had talked to my vet about the fear of prolonging her life if she was ready to go. He said that if the shot worked and she continued to eat then she must not be ready. She developed a blockage when she was 36, was in pain, so I had the vet euthanize her. I have always felt blessed that God took the choice out of my hands. What you are going through is one of the things I was most afraid of facing. I am so sorry you are going through what I feared!
The only thing I can suggest is to have a serious talk with your vet. Since she seems happy I would probably wait just a little longer, but be watching very closely. The second the light in her eyes even begins to dim, let her go. Have the vet know what you are doing so he/she knows to be ready to come right away and euthanize her before it gets bad.
This is the most painful part of love. You will do what is best for her. I'm so sorry this time has come for the two of you! (((((hugs)))))
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Old 02-01-2010, 04:19 PM  
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We had a younger horse, a palomino TWH gelding, go anorexic. Hauled him 300 miles to a vet school after local vets could find nothing wrong.

He had gastric squamous cell carcinoma. The cancer was either literally filing his stomach, or was blocking the hunger response, so that he felt "full" all the time.

We would eat grass. So we put him out to pasture. After about three weeks, edema set in, and kidney failure and respiratory distress followed, so we put him down.

Equine geriatrics are tough to figure out. I've got a 28 year old TWH that we're having real trouble keeping weight on. Right now, he's grazing his head off in a rye grass paddock, and ignoring his Equine Senior. He's on a steroid (dexamethazone) for allergies/respiratory problems. He literally costs me as much to feed as our other three horses put together. Economically, I'd be better off putting him down, but he's been with me nearly 18 years. He still can go down the fence line in a running walk, and pouts when I ride one of the other horses.

But the day will come...and sooner, rather than later.

Hope your old one snaps out of it!

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Old 02-01-2010, 04:31 PM  
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My old mare (who is gone now) also quit eating at about age 40. I tried everything as well, including steroids and B-12 injections.
She finally decided that she liked a feed called Spillers Senior, it was imported from Britain, and very aromatic with herbs. I really felt like she would not eat it becasue it smelled so strong, but she loved it and ate it for three more years until she passed at age 43.
I don't know if you can find something comparable in Scotland, but it is worth a try.
If not, she may be telling you it is time to pass.
Good Luck with your mare, they are so special.
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Old 02-01-2010, 05:38 PM  
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Not alot of advice from me, just wish she would eat. but you can not make them, just make comfortable until you make the right decision for her.
We just lost one that was 38 and not sick a day in the 14 years that I knew him, just decided to colic and not eat and was gone within hours.
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Old 02-01-2010, 06:31 PM  
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Welcome. Its great to hear of a horse living that long. She must have very good care and lots of love. I agree that she may just be coming to the end. I know it is hard to face, but it may be what is going on.
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Old 02-01-2010, 06:40 PM  
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My old gelding never went off his feed and ate well, hay, soaked seniors, additional soaked beet pulp, boiled flax, corn oil, the lawn and he just kept dropping weight until much too skinny to consider taking him into another of our brutal winters. He outlived his parents by more than a few years.
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Old 02-01-2010, 09:07 PM  
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Wow you have certainly given her a great life for her to live that long! One of my old horses who was 28 loved to eat and would eat anything you put in front of him and yet was still quite emaciated. Now let me tell you people can say all they want about old horses shouldn't get thin if you take care of them, but realistically they do sometimes get thin or emaciated despite the best of care. My gelding was checked out by the vet and was fine, still loved to eat but was thin then one day stopped eating. Turns out the vet felt he probably had some sort of cancer that we couldn't see as he was a gray gelding. So as long as she is happy maybe try different things, such as the different foods and vitamin shots, steroids etc, but once she seems not happy you will know it is her time.
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Old 02-02-2010, 07:23 AM  
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Does she have a companion? Some old horses get lonely and just ready to give up on life. Having a goat or donkey sometimes wakes them up a bit. One old mare was like this every spring until the foals arrived. Then she would perk up. Guess she missed being a mom. Thinking good thoughts that she will pull through.
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