Rocky Valley Veterinary Service

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Caring For an Aging Horse

Caring for an aging horse requires special attention and consideration to ensure their health and well-being. Every aging horse is unique, and their care requirements may vary. Regular communication with us and close observation of your horse’s condition are essential for providing the best possible care as they grow older.

Here are some steps to help you care for your aging horse:

Regular Veterinary Check-Ups: Schedule regular veterinary check-ups for your horse, at least every six months. Older horses are more susceptible to health issues, so early detection is crucial. These check-ups should include dental exams, vaccinations, and overall health assessments. Make sure they are well groomed, and their hooves are cleaned regularly.

Nutrition: Adjust your horse’s diet to meet their specific needs. Older horses may have dental issues that make chewing difficult, so consider providing them with softer, more easily digestible feeds such as senior horse feeds and hay that has been soaked and be sure to give them access to clean water at all times. Feed a high-quality diet more frequently with high fiber and fat, and low sugar and starch, and make sure they don’t have to compete with younger horses for food.

Routine Parasite Control: Continue with a regular deworming schedule to prevent parasitic infections.

Dental Care: Dental problems are common in aging horses. As a qualified equine veterinary dental provider, we can check your horse’s teeth regularly and address any issues promptly. Dental care can significantly impact their ability to eat and maintain proper nutrition.

Hoof Care: Regular farrier visits are essential for hoof care. Overgrown or unbalanced hooves can lead to lameness, which is particularly challenging for older horses to recover from. Good hoof balance helps with weight bearing and reduces stress on the joints.

Exercise and Turnout: Keep your aging horse physically active to maintain muscle tone and joint flexibility. However, be mindful of their limitations and avoid overexertion. Gentle, regular exercise, such as light riding or hand walking, can be beneficial to their mobility. Turnout in a safe pasture or paddock can help maintain muscle tone and joint flexibility.

Shelter and Comfort: Keep them outside if there is adequate shelter. Ensure they have access to a clean and comfortable shelter to protect them from extreme weather conditions. Provide soft bedding, like straw or shavings, to cushion their joints and provide warmth.

Social Interaction: Horses are social animals. Ensure your aging horse has companionship, either from other horses or other animals. Engaging with other buddies will have a significant impact on preventing loneliness and stress.

Medication and Supplements: Depending on your horse’s health, we may recommend supplements or medications to manage age-related conditions like arthritis or Cushing’s disease. Joint supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate can help arthritic horses.

Weight Management: Monitor your horse’s weight closely. Obesity can exacerbate age-related issues, while excessive weight loss can be a sign of underlying health problems. Adjust their diet as needed to maintain a healthy weight.

Monitoring and Record-keeping: Keep a close eye on your horse’s condition and behavior. Maintain a record of their weight, vital signs, and any health changes. This will help us together, as a team, track their well-being over time.

Quality of Life: Continually assess your horse’s quality of life. If they are in pain or suffering from a chronic condition that cannot be managed effectively, the time may come when we need to talk about humane end-of-life options.

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