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 Gray, DVM MA, is the Staff Veterinarian for SmartPak. Prior to joining SmartPak, Dr. Gray served as the first-ever Director of Owner Education for the American Association of Equine Practitioners. She has authored numerous articles in publications such as The Horse, Horse Illustrated, Western Horseman and a variety of veterinary journals and magazines. Dr. Gray is also a frequent speaker at horse expos, veterinary conventions and other events. After graduating with honors from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine and receiving her Master's Degree in Interpersonal and Organizational Communication, she practiced at the Tremont Veterinary Clinic for several years. Dr. Gray is active in the American Veterinary Medical Association and Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association. She enjoys training and showing her Trakehner, Newman, in both combined driving and dressage, and is a USDF “L” Program Graduate (with distinction). Find Dr. Gray on Google+

Posted in Ask the Vet, Seasonal Horse Care

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