Preventing dehydration in horses

  • Beads of sweat on a horse serve a vital purpose – to bring down his body temperature.

    But sometimes this sweating mechanism fails.

    The inability to sweat is known as anhidrosis. It is a physical abnormality that can compromise the well-being of any equine, but particularly the competition horse.

    So what can we do to prevent anhidrosis and dehydration?

  • Planning exercise: during the warmer months, the horse should be ridden during the cooler times of the day. He should be promptly cooled off afterwards.
  • Diet: by providing the correct amount of electrolytes and maintaining the minimum effective level of concentrates, you will reduce the risk of anhidrosis. Remedies such as vitamin E and selenium supplements, sodium and potassium chloride additives, as well as thyroid hormones, have all been tried, with mixed results.
  • Water: provide access to clean, fresh water at all times. A horse can drink around 15 gallons of water a day when it is in hard work.
  • Ventilation: ensure the horse’s stable environment is well ventilated.
  • Moisture: keep food moist – soaking hay can increase a horse’s water intake.

    To read the full veterinary article about anhidrosis see the current issue of H&H (12 July 2012)

    Do you want to read more about dehydration?

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