As a horse owner, there are many things that might make your horse’s life difficult – from disabilities due to accidents or injury to natural aging processes like arthritis. One thing we all have in common is the eventuality of our horses’ deaths.
Horses can live up to 40 years and age-related diseases such as arthritis may cause them pain and eventually lead to their demise.
There are, however, some telltale signs that will give you an early warning and time for proper care: weight loss, dull coat, reduced appetite, and decreased grooming. So how do you know if your horse is dying of old age?
If you think your horse is showing these symptoms then you should contact your veterinarian right away.
Here are some signs of an aging or elderly horse:
- Loss of weight on the back end and/or ribs sticking out
- The nostrils flare when breathing
- Poor appetite with no interest in food at all
- Weakness or difficulty standing up after laying down
Sudden Death in Horses
Horses are a large part of the equine population and a member of the family for many horse lovers. Many people have grown up with horses, riding them or caring for them from an early age. When sudden death in horses occurs it can be very difficult to handle.
The first thing to know about sudden death in horses is that there isn’t always one specific cause – sometimes they just happen without any warning at all.
In most cases, sudden death in horses is usually the result of a congenital heart defect.
When an animal dies suddenly, it’s often due to cardiovascular collapse or trauma-related injury or both. Heart defects in horses are from defects that limit blood flow from the left side of the heart back into circulation on the right side (the pulmonary artery).
Other factors that can cause sudden death in horses include;
- Lack of grooming – not eating or drinking as much
- Dull coat and loss of muscle mass with weight loss
- Swollen joints which are warm to the touch, especially in younger horses. (This might indicate an infection or arthritis.)
Your vet will be able to make a proper diagnosis based on the type of symptoms you’re seeing.
Sudden death in horses is a difficult thing to go through but if your horse dies unexpectedly it’s important to be able to recognize the signs and get help quickly for future prevention.
What Happens when a Horse Dies of Old Age?
The death of a horse is never easy, but when the horse lives to old age, it can be even more difficult. The best thing for you to do is to make sure that your horse has the best care possible in its final days and weeks.
It’s important that they are comfortable and well-fed through this time so that they don’t suffer needlessly before dying peacefully. It is important that you ensure your horse remains comfortable right up until the end.
You can do this by making sure they have plenty of fresh water and an adequate supply of food. When a horse dies of old age, the symptoms will vary depending on their overall health and how long they’ve been struggling with diseases.
If you notice that your horse is having trouble breathing or standing up then it’s time to call your vet right away so that you can make their passing as easy and painless as possible.
It’s important to remember that horses are herd animals, so they will become very distressed if left alone for long periods of time without any other horses nearby; it would be kinder financially to keep them in a group together rather than leave one behind.
If the horse is dying, this is especially true.
They will be in a lot of physical pain and they may lash out or become aggressive due to how much it hurts them; you should never approach an animal that’s in the final stages of life as they are highly unpredictable.
If your horse has been struggling with illness for some time then there might be other symptoms that you notice; weakness and loss of appetite are common signs in the final stages.
If they have been eating less, then this will soon become noticeable when their weight starts to drop quickly over time. This is another sign your horse may not be well so it’s important you keep a close eye on them if possible.
How to Comfort a Dying Horse
If you’re anything like me, then the thought of your horse dying is unbearable. For many, horses are their best friends and companions. They teach us about responsibility and how to take care of something that completely depends on us for survival.
We all have a duty to do everything we can to keep them from suffering as they near death, but what do you say when it’s time for them to go?
I’m going to share with you some things that I’ve learned from dealing with this situation in my own life so that hopefully one day you’ll be able to comfort a dying horse too.
- Provide access to fresh water at all times and plenty of food. This may be difficult with an old or sick animal but it’s important not to let them go without.
- If your horse is not eating, then it’s important that you give them some supplement feed or even herbal remedies to help their appetite along if possible.
- Make sure they have access to water at all times as dehydration can cause a lot of pain and discomfort later on in life for an animal; it’s important to keep them hydrated as much as possible.
- As your horse gets weaker, it can become more difficult for them to stand up so you might have to help out by lifting their hooves or moving their legs around if they are stuck in an odd position; these kinds of tasks will be draining on you though and you may need to rest in between.
- It’s important that your horse is not left alone when they are dying as this can be very distressing for them and it might cause physical pain or aggression; if you have a group of horses, then try having one more with the sick one so that they don’t feel abandoned during their final stages.
- If your horse is dying, then you should never approach them as they will be highly unpredictable; it’s best to keep a safe distance until the end has come and gone so that you don’t get hurt or cause any more pain for your animal friend.
- It can help if you talk softly to your horse when they are in their final hours or have passed away. This is a time when they will need your reassurance and companionship the most so that you can help them transition into death peacefully and without fear.
- Horses like to be with other horses, but if this isn’t possible then make sure there is another equine animal around that they can stay with until the end.
- It’s important that you keep checking on your horse to make sure nothing is going wrong such as them choking or struggling for breath; if this happens then it might be necessary to give some form of immediate first aid so that they don’t suffer any further and die more quickly than expected.