Salt and Electrolytes for Horses
All Horses Need Salt and Many Would Benefit from Electrolytes!
When to consider Electrolytes for your Horse:
Knowing how your horse thermo-regulates will help you better understand how to keep him cool, and when to administer electrolytes. Horses' bodies produce heat when they work. They sweat to help them get rid of this heat.
Most heat is generated from a horse's large muscle mass. The cardiovascular system (the heart and blood vessels) move the heat from the muscles and organs to the skin. As your horse works, he produces sweat in glands in his skin. This sweat is composed of water and electrolytes (sodium, chloride, potassium, and calcium). As the sweat evaporates, it dissipates large amounts of heat, thus cooling your horse. To give you an idea of how much a horse needs to sweat to keep cool, the amount of heat dissipated by one liter of sweat equals just one to two minutes of maximal exercise, or five to six minutes of sub maximal exercise!
Along with removing heat, that evaporating sweat can deplete your horse of important electrolytes. Replacing those electrolytes is an important part of keeping your horse's thermo-regulating system functioning properly. Summer Games Electrolytes, Farnam Apple Dex, or Finish Line Electrolytes are all good choices. Additionally , your horse should always have free choice salt. Himalayan Salt is a popular choice that horses love!
Signs of Heatstroke:
- A Respiratory Rate Higher than 30, that does not return to normal after several minutes of cooling off
- A Heart Rate Higher than 80, that does not return to normal after several minutes of cooling off
- Excessive sweating, or ceasing to sweat at all
- Temperature of more than 103 F, that does not decrease after several minutes of cooling
- "Thumps" - diaphragmatic flutter due to calcium loss. You will see this as twitching of the stomach area.
If you see ANY of these problems, cool your horse with plenty of cold water, allow him to drink if he wants, and call your veterinarian! You can give paste electrolytes orally as well, such as Neogen Stress Dex Gel or Summer Games Electrolyte Paste. Your veterinarian will decide if IV fluids and electrolytes are needed.
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