Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Dropping Grain or Feed Abnormally when Eating

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 this problem seems severe and has come on suddenly.
  • If the horse seems to be having difficulty eating, in addition to showing this sign.

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

  • If you consider this a chronic and relatively mild problem that is not changing rapidly.
  • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) suggest the horse is otherwise normal.

Grain spilling can be caused by behavioral issues, mouth pain, or other causes. A bit of spilling may be considered normal for some horses. Some horses become anxious or impatient when they eat their grain, scattering and spilling it.

Some horses spill feeds that they are not accustomed to eating, or that they dislike. Spilling grain can rarely relate to neurologic or neuromuscular diseases, in which coordinated lip or chewing movements are impossible. Horses that are ill from other causes may gingerly eat their grain, only to drop it out of their mouths.

Usually, however, this problem is a classic sign of dental overgrowths or other dental or oral condition.

WHAT TO DO

Assess the horse’s general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) paying particular attention to heart rate and rectal temperature and general attitude. In all cases, your horse should have a normal appetite and attitude. Assess your horse’s mouth (wear gloves) looking for any other abnormalities.

Wash out the horse’s mouth and look for dental points or ulcers in your horse’s cheek or tongue and contact your vet to discuss your findings and concerns.

WHAT YOUR VET DOES

Your vet will seek to rule out dental or oral conditions that might be causing this sign, but will also consider the horse’s overall health and neurologic function.

POSSIBLE TREATMENTS or TherapiesTo Lessen or Resolve the Sign

Helpful Terms & Topics in HSVGWritten, Reviewed or Shared by Experts in Equine Health

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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