Horse Care: How to Use Electrolytes

Horses have a much higher ratio of muscle than humans, meaning their bodies generate more heat in less time. Horse muscle makes up around 40% of a horse’s body mass, compared to only 20% in the average human. The more the muscles contract, the more heat is generated that the body has to deal with. And because horses have a lower skin surface area in proportion to their size than humans, they have a harder time getting rid of body heat.

For horses, the greatest risk of dehydration due to heat actually comes from longer periods of low-intensity work or exercises. Because these exercises are seemingly less intense, neither horses nor their owners notice the gradual but serious dehydration going on. To combat the heat, cool water is important, but since water is a diluter, water alone will further dilute the low bodily electrolyte supply, and will be excreted as urine since the kidneys identify ingested water as an overload. To combat this, a proper use of electrolytes is necessary to maintaining horse health during times of heat and bodily stress electrolyte powder.

In science speak, electrolytes are the ionized parts of living organic matter. In everyday terms, electrolytes are what keep our bodies healthy and running properly. When we (or our horses) exert energy, our body uses up electrolytes, and electrolytes are used up the fastest when a body becomes so heated it sweats. Electrolyte supplements replace those lost in sweating to keep our bodies functioning properly until a proper amount of nutritious food and water can be administered.

When purchasing a supplement, it is important to choose one that mimics the sweat lost by your horse. Find a product with approximately a 1: 2: 4 potassium: sodium: chloride ratio. This simply means that for every one gram of potassium, there should be two grams of sodium and four grams of chloride. Also, try to avoid fillers as they decrease the efficiency of electrolytes and products without them are more direct. It is also important to choose a supplement that tastes good. Horses can be picky eaters, and, like children, will not want to ingest bad-tasting medicine. Identify Signs of Dehydration

Horses whose internal body temperature has increased significantly through short, intense exercises or long, easy to moderate exercises need to be cooled down with water and re-hydrated with electrolytes. While an electrolyte formula should not be used on a daily basis, their use is unmatched after hard work, competitions, or in conjunction with long travel.

An easy way to test dehydration in your horse is by pinching the horse’s skin. If the skin easily snaps back, the horse is well-hydrated. But if the skin slowly sinks back to its original position, the horse needs some special attention. Administer ElectrolytesElectrolyte supplements come in all shapes and sizes. You can buy bulk options in pellets, powders, or pre-packaged syringes. The type you choose depends on how easily your horse eats or drinks in hot, stressful situations.

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