If you own a horse, you have likely felt or seen white grit on your horse's coat after sweating and the coat dries. But you might not know what this residue is. This white substance is sweat and it contains residual electrolytes. Horse sweat has a much higher concentration of electrolytes than its blood (opposite of humans), which means there is a greater potential for a significant loss of electrolytes in a horse that exercises.
If you want to learn more about whether you should be giving your horse vitamins and minerals to boost their electrolytes, feel free to continue reading today’s blog article!
The Role Of Electrolytes In Horses
The main electrolytes present in the sweat of horses include potassium, chloride, and sodium. There are also trace amounts of magnesium and calcium present, along with other minuscule quantities of minerals. Electrolytes play a role in maintaining osmotic regulation and acid-base balance of bodily fluids. Without electrolytes, the horse's body won't be able to maintain the correct levels of fluids around and in the cells.
Even though fluid regulation in the body is highly complex and typically involves proteins, hormones, enzymes, and electrolytes, the main concept is associated with cell hydration. If the cells are losing excess fluids, they will die. This is why the body must have access to a consistent flow of electrolytes. This is also why there may come a time when supplemental electrolytes can be used or are recommended in a horse.
Signs Of Dehydration To Look Out For
Loss of electrolytes can lead to dehydration. To determine whether your horse is dehydrated, you can try the dehydration test. The dehydration test is simple: pinch a skin fold across the shoulders and watch how slowly or quickly it returns to its normal place. When the skin is not snapping back fast, measures need to be taken in order to rehydrate your horse.
Other tell-tale signs of dehydration that are more severe include:
- Uncoordinated muscle contractions
- Unsteady gait
- Muscle weakness
When To Give Your Horse Electrolytes
The standard forage diet usually supplies some electrolytes. Commercial feeds that typically contain salt or provide the horse access to loose salt or a salt block can also offer the electrolyte requirements that your horse needs. However, when a horse starts sweating excessively, whether this involves exposure to heat or through exercise, the reservoir of electrolytes in the large intestine might not be enough to supply enough electrolytes.
In these cases, horses will most certainly benefit from a supplemental electrolyte product such as Equine America Apple Lytes Granules. The number of electrolytes required will usually depend on how excessively the horse sweats as well as for how long. It is also recommended to administer the electrolytes the night before, especially if your horse will be competing or training the following day.
Maintaining Adequate Fluid Balance
Electrolytes only form a part of adequate fluid balance. Water is very necessary and should never be dismissed when offering your horse electrolyte supplements or salt. Ideally, your horse should always have access to water so that it can drink as soon as it feels thirsty.
When your horse loses dramatic quantities of sweat, it is highly recommended to give your horse supplemental electrolytes. Well-formulated supplements such as Equine America Apple Lytes Granules, mainly contain sodium chloride along with other ingredients such as magnesium, calcium, potassium chloride, and other important trace minerals.
When accurately using electrolyte supplementation, it will help your horse to maintain the right fluid balance when electrolyte replenishment from their diet is proving to be too slow. It is also recommended to test out the ideal delivery method of electrolytes for your horse before your horse reaches a critical "moment of need".
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Equine America NZ is a New Zealand family-owned and run business. For over two decades we have been proudly supplying premium quality supplements and products for horses that target a range of different areas and issues.