The Advances of Age
-Some Common Changes & How To Cope-
Written by: Jessie R. Hanson, Equine Specialist, Purina Mills Inc

Growing older happens, regardless of species. And these days, thanks to advances in technology, nutrition, and veterinary care, horses are living longer, more productive lives. This is a hot topic of research as estimates show that there are more than 700,000 senior horses living in the United States today. Here are some common changes that can occur during your Miniature Horse's golden years and a few ways to cope with them:

Dental:
-Change - Worn or missing teeth, ulcers in mouth.
-Cope - Provide routine dental care (every six months).
Make feed more edible by adding warm water, create a mash.

Digestion:
-Change - Reduction in digestive motility, colic symptoms from gas production and impactions, reduction in nutrient absorption.
-Cope - Feed smaller meals more frequently (horse can more easily digest and process its feed).
     Incorporate processed (pelleted) feeds to increase digestibility (senior rations eliminate preprocessing of feeds).
     Increase the amount of high-quality, easily digestible fiber (assists in preventing excess gas and constipation).
     Supply plenty of clean, fresh water (keeps food moving through the system).
     Provide routine de-worming, parasite control (reduces parasites, keeps them from compromising digestive function).

Respiratory:
-Change - compromised respiratory system (heaves or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), i.e. chronic dry cough, rapid breathing, difficulty inhaling and exhaling, "heave" line).
-Cope - Consult your veterinarian for medications to assist in relief of the symptoms as well as for specific changes to feeding program (i.e. wetting down hay) and environment (i.e. more turn out).

Hair And Skin
-Change - Poor hair coat (some-times be due to Cushing's disease, caused by tumor in the pituitary gland; symptoms include long hair coats that shed late in the year or in patches, loss in muscle mass and excessive water intake).
-Cope - Consult your veterinarian if symptoms exist.

Bones And Joints
-Change - Lameness (due to chronic founder, laminitis, arthritis, or stiffness from weakened bones due to demineralization).
-Cope - Obtain veterinary assistance to aid in alleviating discomfort (management recommendations may vary upon condition).
     When all is said and done, perhaps the best preventative we can offer our Miniature Horse seniors is a caring owner who is aware of his changing needs and makes certain that he or she does whatever necessary to make all their Miniature Horse's days golden ones.

 

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DID YOU KNOW

Have you ever wondered how old your Miniature Horse was in human years? Take a look at this article and see your self!