What you see. The starting point for addressing any equine health related issue is your observation.


Not Eating Grain


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. Some horses recovering from intestinal illness will 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.

  • 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.

your role


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.

your vet's role

Your vet will assess the horse's general health and may recommend additional diagnostics.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • Did you recently change grain?
  • Have you added anything new to the grain ration, such as a supplement?
  • Will the horse eat a different type of grain?
  • How is the horse's appetite otherwise?
  • When did you first notice this?
  • Do you notice other behavioral changes?
  • What does the horse do for a living?
  • What are the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE)?

Diagnoses Your Vet May Consider

The cause of the problem. These are conditions or ailments that are the cause of the observations you make.

Very Common
Less Common
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Treatments Your Vet May Recommend

A way to resolve the condition or diagnosis. Resolving the underlying cause or treating the signs of disease (symptomatic treatment)

Very Common
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Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP