Diet for a Cribbing Horse
My horse has a very bad cribbing problem and seems to have lost a lot of weight quickly. Right now I’m feeding him 14-percent sweet feed. Can you suggest another food that will help him to gain his weight back?
This week's question is answered by ASPCA Pet Nutrition Specialist Jennifer Wheeler.
First of all, Wilbrielle, cribbingwhen a horse grabs an item such as a stall door with his front teeth and sucks in airis dangerous and should be discouraged. Horses often swallow slivers of wood while performing this behavior and sucking in air can cause colic and other issues. Second, although certain horses may spend so much of their time cribbing that they lose interest in their food, this behavior is not necessarily responsible for your horse's rapid weight loss. We recommend contacting your veterinarian, who will be able to diagnose and treator rule outa medical cause.
If your veterinarian rules out a medical condition and verifies that your pet's weight loss is the result of cribbing, other appropriate treatments can then be recommended. These might include using a cribbing collar, providing your horse with enrichment activities and toys or giving him “time out” on pasture, preferably with companions.
Once the medical or behavioral issue has been addressed, you can focus on putting the pounds back on your pet. High-quality alfalfa hay that is composed more of leaves than stems is more nutrient-dense than grass hay and will provide your horse with more calories. In addition, adding an appropriate amount of grain to your horse’s diet will add calories that will help him gain weight. Supplements such as rice bran and oils can help, too. Please discuss these feeding options with your veterinarian or other equine professional prior to changing your horse’s diet.
For more information on feeding your horse, please check out Top Ten Nutritional Tips for Horses in the pet nutrition section of our website.