Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Not Eating Grain

Code Orange - Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours

Code Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

Code Orange - Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours

  • If the horse seems not quite right, or eating less than normal in addition to this sign.
  • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) suggest the horse is otherwise normal.

Code Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

  • If this is the only sign and the horse seems normal otherwise.
  • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) suggest the horse is otherwise normal.

A horse’s appetite is a great indicator of well-being. When horses do not eat as we expect they should, they may have an underlying health problem. Loss of appetite for grain is often seen in horses that have intestinal problems or systemic disease. This behavior is classically seen in horses with equine gastric ulcer syndrome, EGUS.

Horses have good instincts in this case. I have seen horses recovering from intestinal illness begin to eat hay, but more slowly redevelop an appetite for grain. This makes sense, as grain tends to be higher in sugar and more acidifying to the intestine than most hays.

WHAT TO DO

Assess your horse’s general health using Whole Horse Exam (WHE), paying particular attention to their attitude, general appetite, manure production, intestinal sounds, heart rate and rectal temperature. Test your horse’s appetite generally by feeding something you know they normally like. Share your findings and concerns with your vet.

WHAT YOUR VET DOES

Your vet will assess the horse’s general health and may recommend additional diagnostics.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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