On the surface, weight gain supplements for horses sounds like a bad idea. While it is true that a horse can live on grass and water alone, you don’t want to subject your horse to this treatment. Horses need nutrients as much as any animal. And this becomes truer if the horse is used for racing.
Now, I wish I could name one product, call it the best supplement for horses for gaining weight and call it a day. But because there are hundreds upon hundreds of supplements in the market the process has become tiresome.
Hold on, you don’t need to sweat about it. That is my job. The only thing you need to do is to keep an eye on your horses’ health. And when you spot your horse becoming underweight, consult your vet and introduce a supplement to his diet.
How to Know If Your Horse Is Underweight?
Underweight horses are quite easy to spot. The biggest of these is the rib visibility. So, if you find that the ribs of your horse are clearly visible, know that he is underweight. This may not be the case if your horse gets worms in which case it may become overweight without its ribs become visible.
In less severe cases, finding whether you are facing an underweight horse or not requires careful examination.
The following are the things you need to examine:
- See the neck. Is it accentuated?
- Examine the withers. Whether they are sharp or rounded?
- Look at the tailhead. Is it prominent?
If your answers are yes, sharp, and yes, then your horse is underweight. Now is the time to call your vet, and get yourself ready to change your horses’ diet.
Often, people who are facing such a situation just increase the quantity of the feed. This is not a solution. Aside from calling the vet, a good first step is seeing if the addition of a horse weight gain supplement improves the situation.
How to Choose the Right Weight Gain Supplement For Horses?
Choosing a supplement should not be taken lightly. Anything that is responsible for changing the physical structure of your animal needs to be put under scrutiny. As a horse owner, it is your responsibility to ensure that the supplement is safe and provides the nutritional benefits it promises.
Also remember that you should first have a look at what your horse eats on a daily basis and see whether there’s a possibility you could improve your horse’s diet before shifting to a supplement.
Two types of ingredients make up a weight gain supplement for horses:
- Active ingredients
- Inactive ingredients
The latter is only meant to enhance the taste and to preserve the supplement so you don’t worry about that. However, the former is where you need to pay attention to.
Active ingredients provide the benefits the supplement claims. For instance, in weight gain supplements active ingredients are responsible for boosting weight gain.
That said, whenever you buy weight gain supplements look for rice bran, fats, proteins, and fiber sources such as flaxseed meal. These active ingredients not only build muscle but also provide benefits such as skin sensitivity.
Other active ingredients may be present but these are the major ingredients that you are going to find.
This is another thing to consider when making a supplement decision for your horse. Like humans, horses have different tastes. Therefore, it is not guaranteed that your Arabian will like powdered supplements in his diet nor is it guaranteed that your Friesian will fall in love with liquid supplements.
So, test and then order in bulk. Finding out your horsy doesn’t like powdered supplements while you have your entire life savings on some is a sight too cruel to behold.
Possible Side Effects
When choosing a supplement for your horse’ to gain weight, it is crucial to look at the possible side effects.
A supplement is sort of like a medication. On one hand, it treats or helps a certain condition while on the other hand, it may cause undesirable side effects like blood thinning. For instance, the chestnut extract is a popular dietary supplement for horses. It reduces pain and swelling in the legs. On the flip side, the chestnut extract is a blood thinner and reduces the potency of diabetes drugs.
The same argument holds true against weight gain supplements. And when you factor in how sensitive the tummies of younger and older horses are, consultation with a vet becomes crucial.
Certification from a relevant authority should be your final consideration.
If you are looking to buy a supplement as a drug, ensure that it is approved by the FDA for this use. Supplements that are not, usually don’t make claims to treat a health condition. Language such as “helps to reduce inflammation” is a giveaway that the supplement is not a drug.
Similarly, when choosing a supplement, ensure that it has a safety certification from NASC. National Animal Supplement Council is a non-profit organisation that regulates animal supplements. The supplement the council certifies has a Quality Seal on the package to make them easily identifiable.
In short, before purchasing any supplement look for certifications of safety from the FDA, if it’s a drug and NASC if it is a supplement.
Best Weight Gain Supplements for Horses
Choosing the right supplement for your horse’s weight gain is tough work. Because I care about you and your horse, I did the hard work for you. The following are the 11 best weight gain supplements for horses.
Formula 707 is one of the most well-known supplements on the market. And there is a good reason for it.
The main reason why Formula 707 is so popular is because of the ingredients. The base of the supplement is vegetable fats, fiber, and protein. These three things work together to balance the nutritional composition of the forage. It doesn’t just make your horse put on weight. It makes your horse put on a healthy weight.
Here’s how these ingredients impact your horse:
- Vegetable fats provide enough calories for an energy boost. More energy means a healthier horse
- Proteins are responsible for muscle buildup. Muscles are the primary contributors to the weight. So, more muscles mean more weight
- Fiber is a must for a healthier digestive system. The better the digestive system, the better the nutrient absorption
As you can see, all of these active ingredients work together to meet your horse’s nutritional requirements. Your horse will start putting on weight as soon as his requirements are met.
In short, it is a solid product that is equally helpful for young and old horses.
There are two versions of the Adeptus Gleam and Gain on the market. The key difference between these two versions is the percentage of fat. In the original formula, the fat percentage is 41% while the supreme formula boasts a percentage of 60%. Aside from this difference both versions are identical.
The 60% fat content in the supreme version, which we are discussing here, provides several benefits in young horses. I say ‘young horses’ because such a high-fat content feed is not suitable for a senior horse. That said, young horses benefit quite a lot from this. Ingredients like flax meal not only improve the weight, they also help in getting rid of foreign substances like sand from the digestive system of your horse.
Moreover, Adeptus Supreme also contains Omega-3 fatty acids. The addition of this Omega-3 is good news for horses with severe skin allergies. The anti-inflammatory qualities of these fatty acids improve the skin’s natural defence against allergens.
All in all, for young horses struggling with weight, Adeptus Supreme is a godsend.
If you are wary of grains in your horse’s diet, then look at UltraCruz Weight Gain Supplement. The supplement is in liquid form which means no grain.
That said, the removal of grain isn’t the only reason you should look at this supplement. The inclusion of active ingredients such as flax oil and Vitamin E is a good thing since these help in gaining weight.
Flax oil is choke-full of fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation, help in maintaining healthy cholesterol levels, and promote new tissue growth. In other words, UltraCruz has done a good job of choosing flax oil as an active ingredient.
Finally, Vitamin E promotes a stronger immune system which translates to a healthier horse.
My two cents? It is a great supplement for performance and competition horses.
For people who prefer a supplement in powder form, Farnam Equine Weight Builder is an excellent choice.
Why is it an excellent choice?
For starters, it packs in 50% fat. Such a high concentration of fat means your horse will have plenty of calories. More calories mean more weight.
Additionally, the supplement also contains Omega-3 fatty acids. It bears repeating that Omega-3 fatty acids are great at keeping harmful cholesterol levels and inflammation at bay. Plus, they also help your horse maintain its shiny coat.
Finally, by using this supplement you are not introducing any sugar nor any calcium: phosphorus imbalance.
Aside from all the good things, there is one little annoyance. Most picky eaters (read: food connoisseurs) will stay away from powdered supplements. So, try it before you commit to a considerable supply.
When it comes to horse weight gain supplements there are three things you need to look out for:
- High-fat content
- Low sugar
- Essential vitamins and minerals
Any supplement that has got all three of these qualities is a potentially awesome product. Buckeye Nutrition Weight Gain Supplement has all of these qualities.
First up, Buckeye has 25% fat content which means plenty of calories for your horse. The cool thing is that the fat content is a combination of rice bran, flaxseed oil, and soybeans. These are natural sources which are a really good thing.
In addition to fat, Buckeye also contains Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. Fatty acids are some of the most beneficial nutrients on the planet. They help in conditions like hypertension, skin allergies, and heart diseases among many others.
Before we move on to the next product, beware that some horses refuse to eat this supplement, though you can read more on our recommendations on how to make a horse eat its supplements here.. No one knows why but chances are it is due to the hardness of the pallets.
Looks like high-fat supplements are all the rage at the moment. And why won’t they be? A high-fat percentage means your horse will get more calories. More calories mean more weight.
Purina High-Fat Horse Supplement contains 25% fat from sources such as rice bran, flaxseed oil, and vegetable oils. Plus, the fat content is supplemented by the addition of proteins and vitamins. All of these together mean that Purina Horse Supplement is an all-around nutrient-rich product.
So, what benefits do these ingredients provide?
Well, fats provide the necessary energy, proteins build the muscles which contribute to weight gain, and Vitamin E removes free radicals from the horse’s body.
The only negative thing I can think of here is the price. If Purina manages to lower the price, it will become an even better product.
In my experience, the number one cause of weight loss in horses is poor gut health. Once you improve the gut situation and start adding nutrients to the diet, your horse will gain all of his lost weight back. And this is the sales pitch of Horse Guard Super Weight Gain Supplement. It is a supplement that works by correcting the gut health.
The thing that sets the Super Weight Gain apart is its inclusion of prebiotics and probiotics. Prebiotics and probiotics promote a healthy microbial culture in the gut which is crucial for gut health.
Moreover, the supplement includes a combination of proteins, soybeans, vitamins, and trace minerals. Proteins build muscles where soybeans provide energy. Together these two contribute to weight gain.
All in all, it is a great product that deserves your attention.
The Equine Edge Muscle Mass claims that it is an everyday supplement. This means the ingredients used to make it are safe and beneficial for your horse.
The ingredients we are talking about here include:
- Vitamin E, C, D3, and B
These ingredients serve different responsibilities e.g. proteins build lean muscles and flaxseed provides energy. Moreover, the inclusion of vitamins is a big plus since vitamins are an important part of a healthy, weight gain diet.
Finally, there are trace amounts of minerals such as Iron and Himalayan Salt. Iron maintains oxygen level in blood while salt is an electrolyte. Both of these minerals improve performance.
That said, these minerals are hard to come by in horse weight gain supplements. The fact that they are present in the Equine Edge is a noteworthy thing.
Hard keepers are horses that are quite picky eaters. Therefore, it is quite common for hard keepers to lose weight. Vita Flex claims that their supplement is both for the regulars and hard keepers alike. And that claim holds true, for the most part.
The supplements under question packs in 13% proteins with 40% fat. The combination is quite clever since you need both the proteins and fat to initiate weight gain.
Additionally, Vita Flex has also used Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids in the supplement. Much has already been said about these so I don’t need to go in detail. The gist of it is that these fatty acids are great for skin allergies and maintaining a shiny coat.
Long story short, Vita Flex is quite a good product even if it costs considerably less than the competition.
Cox Veterinary Labs Supplements is a low-cost weight gain supplement that works almost as well as considerably more expensive ones.
The chief active ingredients in the supplement are:
- 14% protein
- 40% fat
- Vitamin E
- Omega-3 fatty acid
The percentages of fat and protein are quite high which is a good sign. These two ingredients are the primary causes of weight gain in horses.
On the other hand, Vitamin E doesn’t help with weight gain rather helps in removing harmful tissue destroying particles like free radicals from the body.
Similarly, Omega-3 fatty acids are known as anti-inflammatory nutrients.
As a result, not only will your horse receive a weight boost, it will also get a shinier coat and tougher skin against allergens.
Cox Veterinary Labs Supplement gets my recommendation.
As the name suggests the Manna Pro Senior Accelerator is for the senior horses. And the ingredients reflect that.
Firstly, the supplement comes with easily digestible fat content. Moreover, the addition of probiotics makes the digestion of this supplement even easier.
With that out of the way, here is how Senior Weight Accelerator helps your senior horse:
The fat content provides the necessary energy. In addition to this energy boost, the supplement also contains Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamins, and Anti-oxidants. Where the fatty acids help in reducing allergen response in seniors, the anti-oxidants and vitamins provide senior horses with much-needed nutrients.
All in all, Manna Pro has done an excellent job here.
FAQs About Weight Gain Supplements for Horses
If I didn’t include an FAQ section, then what kind of an article would it be? A pretty boring one if you ask me.
How can I make my horse gain weight fast?
To help your horse gain weight fast:
- Ensure that there is always hay for your horse to eat. How will he put on weight if he doesn’t have a lot to eat?
- Mix a handful of alfalfa in the usual quantity of grass. Alfalfa contains more calories than hay and as such can help your horse to put on weight
- Boost the quality of the forage by mixing in weight gain supplements. The supplements are especially important for an old horse whose metabolism can’t extract nutrients from hay completely
- Feed many smaller portions instead of one large meal. Doing so will make your horse eat all the time which is what it’s digestive system is designed for
- Make your horse have plenty of exercise. Exercise reduces fat, releases energy, and develops muscles. Muscles weigh more than fat
Just like losing weight in a matter of days is not a good thing, fast weight gain isn’t one either. And expecting that your horse will put on the pounds in a jiffy without adverse effects goes against common sense.
What can I feed my older horse to gain weight?
Older horses require quite a manageable diet. For reasons such as tooth decay, a weak digestive system, and a lack of much physical activity older horses lose weight.
And they can’t have the same supplement rich diet as younger ones to bring their weight up.
That said, there are many weight gain strategies that you can employ. Some of them are:
- Switch out a quarter of the hay for alfalfa. Alfalfa is calorie-rich and is therefore quite useful when it comes to weight gain
- Feed your horse forage in the form of pallets. Pallets are easy to chew and digest which is a good thing for an older horse’s weak digestive system
- Try feeding your horse beet pulp as a fiber source. Beet pulp is generally safe and is an excellent source of energy
- Use rice bran as a fat source. Mixing rice bran with a protein source is a great way to balance the diet of your old horse
When applying these strategies just make sure that you practice restraint. It can be tempting to increase the amount of beat pulp or put that rice brain car into fifth gear. Increasing the amount won’t help. On the contrary, you may end up hurting your horse.
Does beet pulp help horses gain weight?
Beet pulp packs in enough fermentable fiber to make it a good replacement for grass and can help horses gain weight. In most cases, it isn’t used to replace grass rather it is used to complement it. So, try to use beet pulp as a supplement that adds nutrients rather than as a standalone food source.
How long does it take for a horse to gain weight?
It takes 3 weeks to a month for the effects of the diet change to show. After this period owners can usually see the difference in weight.
From the time you start introducing changes to the diet, wait at least 2 weeks before measuring the weight again. Horses, especially seniors, take a while to adjust to the new diet.