How to Shop for Fat Supplements
Updated on: 9/11/2019
Which horses may benefit from fat supplements?
Hard keepers, such as some seniors and certain “hot” breeds like Thoroughbreds, are generally good candidates for fat supplements. If you have a horse who is struggling to maintain weight, the first step is to work closely with your veterinarian to determine the underlying cause and to see what dietary and management changes may be helpful. If your horse still needs extra support after you’ve ruled out health issues, checked his hay and grain ration, and eliminated environmental stress, adding fat to the diet may be an ideal choice.
There are also certain situations, such as when a horse has Polysaccharide Storage Myopathy (PSSM), where a high fat diet may be recommended by your veterinarian and supplements may play a key role in developing a feed program.
Why are fat supplements a good choice?
A horse’s digestive system is particularly efficient at utilizing fat for calories, so a relatively small amount of fat in their feed program can go a long way towards supporting a healthy weight. In addition, fat is considered a “cool” source of calories. This means that it provides energy without causing a significant change in behavior or temperament from a spike in blood levels, like those you may find from adding sugars and starches to the diet. These factors make fat supplements a great option to consider for maintaining a healthy body condition for many horses.
What to look for in a fat supplement?
Fat supplements come in a variety of forms, the most common two being powder or oil. Since fat is generally difficult to form into a pellet, there aren’t as many pelleted options for fat supplements relative to other supplement categories.
While most horses will eat a powdered or oil fat supplement without any issue, if you have a particularly picky eater, look for an option with added flavor, such as the plant fenugreek, to help make the supplement extra yummy.
It’s also important to consider the type of fat you are providing, steering clear of fats like corn oil or sunflower oil. These fats are particularly high in omega 6s, which can support inflammation if provided in the incorrect balance. For more information about omega 3s and 6s in fats, check out our Nutrition Guide here.
What complimentary ingredients may be worth considering?
Ingredients like pre and probiotics, enzymes and yeast all may play a role in supporting normal digestive function and helping your horse utilize the food that they eat. This is why combining a fat product with digestive support can be a great way to increase the level of support for a hard keeper.
Muscle development support
We’ve found that horse owners who struggle with hard keepers are often also are looking to support muscle and topline development. Keeping an eye out for ingredients like amino acids, bioactive whey and/or gamma oryzanol when you’re building your horse’s supplement program is a great way to offer more comprehensive support if this is an area of concern for your horse.
It also provides amino acids for lean muscle development, and prebiotics, probiotics, and enzymes for digestive health, two areas where a hard keeper can benefit from extra support.