For the week of July 28 through July 31, 2019, all Equine Electrolytes and 50# Blocks Salt Horse Licks will be 20% off at Spring Creek Feed Center. Follow these tips below to keep your horses hydrated in this summer heat.
1. How long is too long for a horse to go without water?
Although horses’ bodies can tolerate a lack of water for extended periods, dehydration from water restriction can quickly become fatal. Janicki recommends seeking veterinary help if it’s obvious (based on clinical signs mentioned in No. 5, along with untouched water sources) a horse hasn’t been drinking for two days. “After three to four days, the horse’s organs will begin to shut down, which can result in irreversible (organ and tissue) damage,” she explains.
Water intake, however, is not just about drinking. “Horses on pasture (which has a high percentage of moisture) will sometimes drink little to no additional water,” Gordon explains. “The more dry feedstuffs fed to the horse (such as hay), the more water they will drink.”
She adds that horses also naturally generate “metabolic” water as a result of breaking down protein, carbohydrates, and fat. “This does not provide a large amount of water, but does contribute to the horse’s daily balance,” she says. “All of these things may change the horse’s demand for water. Always follow good basic horse keeping rules and have fresh, potable water available at all times.”
2. How do I encourage my horse to drink?
Both of our sources agree that the easiest way to encourage drinking is to provide your horse with fresh, clean, palatable water at all times. “Frequently checking, scrubbing, and refilling water troughs and buckets is part of the nitty-gritty of horse keeping,” Gordon says.
Other ways to up your horse’s intake include soaking hay and providing salt via salt blocks, loose salt top-dressing on feed, or a salt supplement. “Correct sodium balance in the horse is necessary for proper thirst response and body water equilibrium,” Gordon explains.
3. What temperature water do horses prefer to drink?
There is evidence that horses prefer lukewarm (20°C or 68°F) water, especially during cold weather, Janicki says. For instance, researchers have shown that pony stallions drank 38-41% less water when it was near frozen compared to when it was 66°F. Yet, when kept indoors at warm temperatures, they drank the same amount of both 32°F water and 66°F water.
4. Can a horse drink too much water?
A horse can, in fact, drink too much water, particularly if he suffers from certain health conditions, such as equine Cushing’s disease. Such ailments can cause a horse to exhibit polydipsia, or excessive drinking behavior.
“Excessive water intake can cause stress on the kidneys as they eliminate the excess water and can also dilute the electrolytes in the horse’s body, decreasing its ability to regulate temperature,” Janicki explains.
Healthy horses, however, typically don’t drink beyond their body’s capacity, says Gordon: “In research we conducted looking at water intake from adding sodium to diets, no horse drank beyond what was considered normal for their body weight or based on weather conditions. We’re usually more concerned about the opposite: horses not drinking enough water.”