What Causes a Horse Not to Gain Weight?

Why Isn't My Horse Gaining Weight?

Horses are strong and beautiful creatures, but their health is delicate. If a horse is not gaining weight as expected, it could indicate a more serious underlying issue. Knowing what can prevent weight gain for horses can help you identify the issue and take action to ensure your horse’s well-being. Here are signs to look out for, courtesy of David Woods Hay Service.

Dental Issues

Your horse needs good dental health for proper digestion and nutritional absorption. If your horse has sharp edges on its teeth, this can lead to difficulty chewing its food effectively, making it difficult for the horse to get enough nutrients from its feed.

Signs of dental issues include quidding (dropping partially chewed food), head shaking, poor performance, and weight loss. A qualified veterinarian can help diagnose and treat any dental issues.

Incorrect Feeding Practices

Horse owners should know how much their horses should eat daily to maintain a healthy weight. Not feeding enough or overfeeding can lead to an unhealthy body condition score (BCS). Working with a nutritionist or veterinarian will ensure that your horse gets the correct amount of feed based on age, activity level, and other factors. Play it safe and always use a quality feed and alfalfa hay delivery service.


Internal parasites can be a common cause of weight loss in horses. When a horse has an infestation of worms or other parasites, it won’t be able to absorb as many nutrients from its food due to its presence. As many as 100 types of parasites can get into the equine system, such as lungworms, pinworms, and Stomach Bots. Parasites can lead to poor performance and, in severe cases, even colic. Regular deworming with appropriate medication can help prevent this issue.

Weather Effects

Extreme weather conditions such as heat and cold also affect the average horse weight. Horses lose more body weight during warmer months due to increased sweating and decreased appetite. During cold winter months, horses burn more calories to keep warm and may not be able to get enough nutrition from their feed. Blanketing your horse can help protect it in colder temperatures.


Cushing’s Disease is a common endocrine disorder in horses that can lead to weight loss, hair loss, and laminitis. Horses can also have liver diseases, Cancer, HYPP, and other ailments that can lead to weight loss. Consult a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.

High Metabolism

Your horse’s body may burn off more calories than it takes in, leading to weight loss. Certain breeds, such as Thoroughbreds and Arabians, usually have high metabolisms. Genetics and seasonal time can also affect equine metabolism. Working with a nutritionist can help you find the right balance of feed to keep your horse at its ideal weight.


Ulcers may happen when a horse’s digestive system becomes inflamed or irritated due to stress, feed changes, and other factors. Ulcers can lead to weight loss due to difficulty eating and digesting food. Your vet can help diagnose and treat this issue with omeprazole or ranitidine.

Start With Quality Feed

In addition to regular vet checkups, deworming, and other preventive measures, invest in high-quality feed to maintain a healthy horse weight. David Woods Hay Service offers a variety of high-quality hay that is perfect for horses of any age and activity level. Their alfalfa hay is locally sourced and free from weeds, dust, and mold. Contact us at David Woods Hay Service for fast and reliable delivery.