By: Dr. Lydia Gray
Horses that don’t drink well are a constant source of worry to their owners both in the heat of summer and the cold of winter. When it’s hot, horses that sweat but don’t replace the water lost in sweat by drinking can become dehydrated. This can lead to reduced performance, heat exhaustion and other problems. When it’s cold, horses may drink less because of the temperature of the water. Dehydration in winter can mean impaction colic, choke and other serious problems.
There are three ways to try to get more water into horses: feed electrolytes to stimulate thirst, provide warm water in the winter, and add water to feedstuffs such as hay, hay pellets and cubes, complete feeds, and beet pulp.
The average horse drinks between five and seven gallons of water per day. However, when the temperature and workload increase, horses have been known to down as much as 24 gallons to replace losses! Close observation to a horse’s drinking habits as well as his vital signs (temperature, pulse, respiration, capillary refill time) may indicate when he needs to slow down, get out of the heat, or get some more water into him.
About Dr. Lydia Gray