What to feed a horse with cushing's disease for weight gain

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What to feed a horse with cushing's disease for weight gain
Feeding hay that has been tested for safe non-structurable carbohydrates is best for feeding horses with Cushing's disease. (hay image by dinostock from Fotolia.com)

Many people suggest increasing pasture grazing, grain and hay intake for a horse with Cushing's disease to gain weight. Cushing's horses that are underweight need more calories than the average horse and high-calorie, high-fat commercial feeds can be a good option.

Not All Feeds are Safe for Cushing's Horses

Horses with Cushing's disease need feed that is low in unhealthy sugars and starches to keep insulin at a safe level. Not all commercial feeds are appropriate for horses with Cushing's disease. Too much sugar or starch can cause Cushing's disease complications including founder. Spring grass is very high in these starches and sugars and should be avoided at all costs.

Bottom Line

The starches and sugar commonly found in many commercial grains, hay and grass contain high levels of non-structurable carbohydrates (NSCs), which increases insulin levels and adversely affects Cushing's horses. A diet that is low in these carbohydrates but high in safe fats and calories is the ideal balance. Combining commercially produced senior feed with hay that has been tested for safe levels of NSCs is an ideal solution. If weight gain is still a problem, your veterinarian can help you choose safe weight gain supplements for your Cushing's horse.

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