Hello! I’m Dr. Katie Young, an equine nutritionist with Purina Animal Nutrition. One common question asked by horse owners is how to help a thin horse gain weight. The first step is to determine the reason behind the horse’s inability to maintain a healthy body weight. If the horse is receiving adequate calories and forage, a veterinarian should be contacted to perform a health exam to rule out any medical conditions. If the horse simply needs more calories, changes can be made to the feeding program, such as evaluating the feed and choosing the appropriate product, weighing the amount fed, and looking at the quality of hay. The approach taken to help a horse gain weight depends on the amount of weight needed and the desired timeframe. It is important to remember that healthy weight gain is achieved not only through calories but also by providing a balanced diet with essential nutrients.

Understanding the Root Cause of Weight Loss

Losing weight is not only a concern for humans but also for our equine friends. If you’ve noticed that your horse is losing weight, it’s important to understand the root cause of this issue. This can be a multi-faceted problem, and there are several factors to consider in order to address it effectively.

Determining the daily feed and forage intake

The first step in understanding the root cause of weight loss in your horse is to determine their daily feed and forage intake. It’s important to keep track of what and how much your horse is eating on a daily basis. This will help you identify any potential deficiencies or imbalances in their diet that may be contributing to their weight loss.

Working with a specialist for an accurate ration evaluation

To ensure an accurate evaluation of your horse’s ration, it’s a good idea to work with a specialist or equine nutritionist. They have the expertise and knowledge to assess your horse’s diet and make appropriate recommendations. They can evaluate the nutritional content of your horse’s current feed and determine if any adjustments need to be made.

Considering possible medical conditions

While inadequate nutrition is often the main cause for weight loss in horses, it’s also important to consider possible underlying medical conditions. Conditions such as dental problems, parasitic infections, or gastrointestinal issues can all contribute to weight loss. Consulting with a veterinarian is crucial in ruling out any medical issues and ensuring your horse’s overall health.

Choosing the Right Feed

Once you’ve identified the root cause of your horse’s weight loss, it’s time to focus on choosing the right feed that will help them regain weight in a healthy manner.

Understanding the importance of calorie intake

Calories play a vital role in weight gain, so it’s important to evaluate the calorie content of your horse’s current feed. Different horses have different energy requirements based on their size, age, and level of activity. By understanding their specific calorie needs, you’ll be able to choose a feed that provides them with the necessary energy to regain weight.

Evaluating the quality of current feed

In addition to calorie intake, it’s also crucial to evaluate the quality of your horse’s current feed. Low-quality feed may lack essential nutrients and may not be providing them with the necessary vitamins and minerals. By switching to a higher-quality feed, you can ensure that your horse is getting the nutrients they need to support healthy weight gain.

Possible need for changing to higher-calorie feed

If your horse is not responding to their current feed, it may be necessary to switch to a higher-calorie feed. Some horses may have higher energy requirements and need a feed that is specifically formulated to provide additional calories. Consult with an equine nutritionist to determine if a higher-calorie feed is necessary for your horse’s weight gain journey.

Accounting for Horse’s Lifestyle

Understanding your horse’s lifestyle is crucial when it comes to addressing weight loss. Factors such as age and activity level play a significant role in determining their nutritional needs.

Analysing age and activity level of the horse

Younger horses and those with higher activity levels are likely to have higher energy requirements compared to older or less active horses. A growing foal or a horse in intense training will require more calories to support their growth and activity. By analyzing your horse’s age and activity level, you can adjust their feeding recommendations accordingly.

Adjustment of feeding recommendations based on lifestyle

Once you have analyzed your horse’s age and activity level, it’s important to adjust their feeding recommendations accordingly. This may involve increasing or decreasing their daily feed intake to meet their specific needs. It’s important to strike a balance between providing enough calories for weight gain while avoiding excessive energy intake that could lead to other health issues.

Incorporating Extra Feed for Weight Gain

Sometimes, a horse may require additional feed beyond their regular diet to help them gain weight. It’s important to determine the appropriate amount of extra feed and ensure a moderate rate of weight gain.

Determining the adequate amount of extra feed

Determining the right amount of extra feed can be a bit of a trial and error process. Start by incorporating small amounts of extra feed into your horse’s diet and monitor their weight gain progress. Gradually increase the amount of extra feed as needed until you reach a consistent and healthy rate of weight gain.

Ensuring a moderate rate of weight gain

While it’s natural to want to see quick results in your horse’s weight gain journey, it’s important to ensure a moderate rate of weight gain. Rapid weight gain can put strain on your horse’s body and may lead to other health issues. Aim for a gradual and steady increase in their weight to ensure their overall well-being.

Utilizing Purina Amplify Fat Supplement

Supplements can play a crucial role in helping horses gain weight, and one such supplement, Purina Amplify, has been specially formulated to aid in weight gain.

Integrating the fat supplement into feeding program

Purina Amplify is a high-fat supplement that provides additional calories to support weight gain in horses. It can be easily integrated into your horse’s feeding program by adding it to their regular feed. Consult with an equine nutritionist to determine the appropriate amount of Purina Amplify to include in your horse’s diet.

Understanding the benefits of this supplement for weight gain

Purina Amplify offers numerous benefits when it comes to weight gain. The high-fat content provides a dense source of calories, making it an ideal choice for horses needing additional energy. It also contains essential fatty acids, such as omega-3 and omega-6, which support overall health and condition. By incorporating Purina Amplify into your horse’s diet, you can help them achieve healthy weight gain.

Assessing Quality and Quantity of Hay

Hay is a staple in a horse’s diet, and it’s important to assess both the quality and quantity of hay to support weight gain.

Confirming sufficient daily intake of hay

It’s crucial to ensure that your horse is consuming enough hay on a daily basis. Hay provides essential fiber and nutrients that support gut health and overall well-being. Make sure your horse has ample access to hay throughout the day to meet their dietary needs.

Observing the quality and its impact on horse’s calories

Not all hay is created equal, and the quality of hay can impact the number of calories your horse is consuming. Higher-quality hay will generally provide more calories, while lower-quality hay may not meet your horse’s nutritional requirements. Take the time to observe the quality of your hay and consult with an equine nutritionist if you have concerns about its impact on your horse’s weight gain.

Implementing Alternative Higher Calorie Sources

In some cases, incorporating alternative higher calorie sources into your horse’s diet may be necessary to support weight gain.

Identifying the need for alternative feeding options

If your horse is not responding to their current diet or is struggling to gain weight, it may be necessary to explore alternative feeding options. This could include hay stretcher pellets, complete feed, or beet pulp, which are all higher in calories compared to traditional forage. Discuss these options with an equine nutritionist to determine the best choice for your horse.

Choosing between hay stretcher, complete feed, or beet pulp

Hay stretcher pellets, complete feed, and beet pulp are all viable options for increasing calorie intake in horses. Hay stretcher pellets are a convenient way to supplement hay, while complete feed is a balanced option that provides all the necessary nutrients in one feed. Beet pulp is a high-fiber and calorie-dense option that can be soaked to make it more palatable. Consider the specific needs of your horse and consult with a specialist to determine which option is best for them.

Planning the Weight Gain Journey

Achieving substantial weight gain in horses requires careful planning and a well-thought-out strategy.

Establishing time-frame for weight gain

It’s important to establish a realistic time-frame for achieving the desired weight gain. Rapid weight gain can be detrimental to your horse’s health, so it’s important to be patient and allow them to gain weight at a gradual and healthy pace.

Creating a strategy for substantial weight gain

Developing a strategy for substantial weight gain involves considering all the factors we have discussed. This includes evaluating your horse’s current diet, incorporating additional feed or supplements, adjusting their feeding recommendations based on lifestyle, and monitoring their progress along the way. Consult with an equine nutritionist to create a customized plan that meets your horse’s specific needs.

Opting for More Calorie-Dense Feeds

In some cases, incorporating high-energy feeds into your horse’s eating routine can be beneficial for weight gain.

Incorporating high-energy feeds into eating routine

High-energy feeds, such as grains and concentrates, can provide an extra boost of calories to support weight gain. However, it’s important to introduce these feeds gradually and monitor your horse’s response. Some horses may be more sensitive to high-energy feeds, so it’s crucial to ensure they are digesting and utilizing the additional calories effectively.

Understanding the benefits of calorie dense feeds

Calorie-dense feeds offer a convenient and effective way to increase calorie intake in horses. They provide a higher concentration of nutrients and can be a valuable tool in supporting healthy weight gain. However, it’s important to strike a balance and not solely rely on these feeds as excessive energy intake can lead to other health issues. Use them as a supplement to a well-balanced diet.


Understanding the root cause of weight loss in horses is the first step towards helping them regain weight in a healthy manner. By determining the daily feed and forage intake, choosing the right feed, accounting for the horse’s lifestyle, incorporating extra feed for weight gain, utilizing supplements such as Purina Amplify, assessing the quality and quantity of hay, implementing alternative higher calorie sources, planning the weight gain journey, and opting for more calorie-dense feeds, you can create a comprehensive strategy to aid in weight gain. Remember, balanced and appropriate nutrition is key, and the choices you make in your horse’s diet can greatly impact their overall health and well-being.