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)
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