Horses need an abundance of water to keep them hydrated, particularly as the days get warmer. Horses regularly consume anywhere between 20-55 litres of water a day. But this will vary depending on the weather, along with the horses living arrangements. Horses tend to consume more water during the hot months. This is mainly due to horses sweating to help them thermoregulate.
In humid weather, a horse’s cooling mechanisms may become ineffective. This can lead to dehydration and heat stress, which can both be fatal. Petplan will take you through everything you need to know about equine dehydration and its dangers.
When it comes to dehydration in horses, it is important that you notice the warning signs early in order to get on top of the situation. Below are some key indications that your horse is dehydrated.
- Decreased appetite
- Decreased manure production
- Check for dry gums/teeth. Their moisture content will decrease with the onset of dehydration
- Dull or sunken looking eyes
Dehydration can cause serious long term effects on horses, and if not treated immediately, possibly death. One of these major health issues brought on my dehydration is Colic. The horse’s body will end up drying out the intestinal contents which can lead to clogging and blockages. This will be extremely painful and can require many visits to the vet along with pain relieving drugs, daily stomach tubing, and water treatments.
Horses require water to produce mucus in their lungs which protects the delicate cells of the respiratory tract. As they become dehydrated and produce less mucus, their protective layer on the lungs slowly goes away making them more susceptible to lung problems, allergies, and even infections.
One of the most common symptoms of dehydration is loss of appetite, which in itself can have a number of effects on the horse’s body. This has a dramatic effect on the kidney and in some cases, can reduce saliva leading to choking hazards when they do feel like eating.
There are a number of things that you can do in order to make sure your horse drinks enough water.
- Change water throughout the day to keep it fresh and cool
- Soak your horses food in water for extra hydration
- Make horse friendly ice pops
- Occasionally use electrolytes with water
- Spray your horse down with water or use a misting system
Whatever way you choose, it is important to always be vigilant around your horse and their drinking habits. Dehydration can happen all year round and without timely treatment, can be fatal for your horse.
The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the writer. Content published here does not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Petplan.