equine electrolytes best practices

Equine Electrolytes Best Practices

Murdoch’s and Dr. Richard G. Godbee are back to discuss equine electrolytes – when to use them, how to use them, and why your horse might benefit from them. Dr. Godbee is the Director of Technical Services for Farnam, Vita Flex, and Horse Health. He holds a Ph.D and is a Professional Animal Scientist who concentrates on nutrition as his area of expertise. Spend five minutes watching this video, and save your horse from complications caused by dehydration.

Winter Dehydration

Electrolytes help your horse stay hydrated. It’s easy to slip into the mindset that dehydration is only worrisome during the warm summer months and after physical exertion. However, according to Dr. Godbee, horse owners should be aware of and work to prevent dehydration all year long. This means paying attention in the winter months as well as the summertime, and using electrolytes regardless of the time of year.

Why? Understanding your horse’s nutritional intake can help inform this best practice. When horses graze, said Dr. Godbee, they consume grass containing as much as 80 percent water. “So they’re consuming a great deal of their daily water intake, which is about 10 gallons a day, from their forage,” he continued. When winter comes, they consume hay, which is 10 percent water, he said. Additionally, we have to ensure water hasn’t frozen and that horses continue to drink. All of this can lead to dehydration, and ultimately, an impaction issue.

How to Use Electrolyte Products

First, don’t add electrolytes to the horse’s water. Doing this can make the water taste salty, and may actually cause your horse to avoid drinking.

Second, for weekend warrior types of horses that run hard for a few days straight and then rest during the week in pasture, make sure they end their exercise with a good drink. You can use electrolyte paste to stimulate the thirst response.

Third, you can choose a paste or a powder; pastes are given directly into the horse’s mouth whereas powders are put on the horse’s feed. Dr. Godbee recommends giving the powder on a daily basis, but increasing or decreasing the amounts based on the individual horse and the amount of activity s/he will get that day.