Summer Sweat and Electrolytes

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In the hot summer months when my horses are sweating alot which electrolyte supplement would you recommend feeding them? There are so many on the market and so many articles about which ones to feed and which ones to avoid. Thank you. – via AAEP Ask the Vet

I agree, there are a lot of choices out there when it comes to electrolytes! And since replacing the vital nutrients lost in sweat as well as encouraging horses to drink and rehydrate themselves are both critical to your horses’ health, let’s see if we can help you sort things out.

Some things to consider when choosing an electrolyte are palatability (ie tastiness), the presence of extra or unnecessary ingredients (like sugar), and how closely the supplement mimics the minerals horses lose in their sweat. The ideal equine electrolyte therefore would be one that horses eat readily, that contains little or no added sugar, and that is formulated to replace what is actually lost from the horse due to sweating. Numerous studies in this area have shown that the major ions found in horse sweat are chloride (Cl), sodium (Na), and potassium (K), in that order, with a little bit of calcium (Ca), so look for a supplement with primarily these macrominerals. Here’s a fact sheet with more detail about sweating in horses and electrolyte supplementation to replenish losses.

Lydia F. Gray, DVM, MA SmartPak Staff Veterinarian and Medical Director Dr. Lydia Gray has earned a Bachelor of Science in agriculture, a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM), and a Master of Arts focusing on interpersonal and organizational communication. After “retiring” from private practice, she put her experience and education to work as the American Association of Equine Practitioner’s first-ever Director of Owner Education. Dr. Gray continues to provide health and nutrition information to horse owners through her position at SmartPak, through publication in more than a dozen general and trade publications, and through presentations around the country. She is the very proud owner of a Trakehner named Newman that she actively competes with in dressage and combined driving. In addition to memberships in the USDF and USEF, Dr. Gray is also a member of the Illinois Dressage and Combined Training Association (IDCTA). She is a USDF “L” Program Graduate and is currently working on her Bronze Medal. Find Dr. Gray on Google+

Posted in Ask the Vet, Seasonal Horse Care

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