In the height of summer, horses can be susceptible to heat exhaustion and dehydration. There are some steps that owners can take to prevent dehydration in horses during the hottest months of the year.
Always make sure your horse is drinking enough water. Horses can drink anywhere from 5 to 25 gallons of water a day. Knowing your horse’s normal intake can help you recognize if he is not drinking enough.
Adding electrolytes to your horse’s feed can help replace salts that are lost through sweat. Electrolytes come in a powder form and are usually inexpensive.
Take care to exercise your horse during the early morning or evening hours when the temperature is cooler. Avoid heavy exercise during the mid-afternoon, when the temperature can rise to a dangerous level.
Dehydration in horses can be detected by checking a few things. If you pinch the skin on your horse’s neck and it “tents,” meaning it doesn’t immediately fall back into place, your horse is dehydrated. If his rectal temperature is above the normal range (99 to 101 degrees), his body has gotten too hot. Immediately move him to a shady place with a fan, and consult your veterinarian.
Remember, dehydration in horses is preventable. Taking the proper precautions can ensure that you and your horse have an enjoyable summer together!