Horses have a very sensitive and very good sense of smell and taste. Horses will refuse to drink water that doesn’t agree with their palette and smell. When a horse refuses to drink because the water is unclean, dirty or doesn’t agree with their sensitive palette & taste, the horse risks dehydration and Colic, resulting in a costly visit by the Vet.
Horses that are forced to drink contaminated water that is unknowingly a carrier of toxins such as botulism, anthrax & toxic algae can cause paralysis of the swallowing muscle which can lead to dehydration and death. A small reduction in water intake may cause dehydration which in turn causes decreased performance, shock, fecal impaction colic, intestinal impaction colic, stomach problems, ulcers and possibly death.
How a Horse Removes Water
Horses remove water in 4 different ways –
1/ Excretion in urine 2/ Manure 3/ Breathing 4/ Skin and Sweating.
Importance of Clean Water
Certain horse diseases including rhino pneumonitis, influenza and strangles can be transmitted via watering troughs so it is important that horses have their own buckets for drinking water especially when in unfamiliar area. Unclean water can also cause digestive problems such as diarrhea & colic.
Equine Probiotics, which are live microorganisms, can help treat horse diarrhea & maintain the horse’s over all digestive health.
Why is water vital to Horses Overall Health?
• Water helps regulate the horses body temperature
• Water helps & aide in the transportation & absorption of required nutrients.
• Water is optimal for horses’ fecal, unwanted toxin & waste removal.
• Water aids the proper function of a Horses digestive system – reducing blockages which can result in Colic
Know the different factors that could affect Horses water consumption
• Age – As horses age, their bodies contain less water, making them more susceptible to dehydration and impaction colic.
• Pasture – The horses’ water consumption from the available water source lessens if the horse is allowed lush green pasture, as the grass normally contain 60-80 percent moisture.
• Horse feed – All-hay diets, horses drink more when fed with a large amount of concentrate coupled with hay or a complete pellet diet. Consider making sure that their diet is rich in water add Watery sugar beet and sylage.
• Seasons – Horses usually drink less water in cold weather.
– Sudden changes to the weather, drop in temperature, even with fresh, palatable water available, Horses refuses to drink even to the point of dehydration.
– Hot, humid days – Vital a Horse has access to water to prevent dehydration.
•Exhaustion – Horses often lose interest in drinking water after heavy work, requiring administration of the lost electrolytes for the horse to regain hydration & strength.
– Horses should never be given cold water after a hard, sweaty workout , allow the horse to first cool down – gradually allow warm to cooler
• In Foal – Pregnant and Lactating mares, or a mare with foal requires more water to increase the production of Milk
•Size – The bigger the Horse the more water is needed.
Dehydrated Horses – Symptoms
• Heart or pulse rate should be monitored for any elevation -28-40 beats per minute is normal for an adult horse)
• Check for changes in the color of horse’s gums (bubblegum pink is normal)
• Test skin elasticity (Pinch Skin on neck in front of the shoulder – Normal, retracts back in less than two seconds).
• Check for changes in Horses urine & stools, Dark urine and feces indicate dehydration.
Dehyration and Horse Colic & Ulcer (EGUS)
Horses not having regular hydration with quality clean water can lead to serious health issues such as Colic and ulcer in horses, both conditions requiring immediate Vetinerary attention.