Fresh clean water for horses is important year-round
By Dr. Kaitie Kirkpatrick
Access to fresh, clean water is imperative for our equine companions. As the owner or caretaker of horses, you will play a pivotal role in the health and hydration of these animals.
Many factors may affect the amount of water required to keep our horses hydrated. For example, lactating mares, horses in high intensity work, and medical conditions such as diarrhea will increase the daily water requirements of the animal. A good rule of thumb for an average size 1,000 pound horse, is 5-10 gallons of fresh clean water daily. Horses can be easily influenced by the temperature and flavor of water. Therefore, it is imperative to monitor your horse’s daily water intake and fill water buckets at least 2 times daily. It is also important to have a schedule in place to clean and disinfect water buckets every few days to prevent potentially harmful microbes and bacteria from accumulating in the water. Especially, during the cold winter months, you should diligently monitor your horse’s water source as the frigid temperatures may freeze the water and your horse will be unable to consume this vital resource. Electric water heaters may be helpful for outside tanks to prevent freezing in certain climates.
Symptoms of dehydration and lack of adequate water consumption include dry gums, lethargy, increased heart rate (normal heart rate 28-48 beats per min), and prolonged skin tent of greater than 2 seconds. If you feel that your horse is experiencing any of these symptoms, contact your veterinarian right away.
There are several effective methods to safely increase the water consumption of your horse. For example, oral electrolytes can provide salts and nutrients to encourage your horse to drink. Electrolytes can be administered orally with electrolyte pastes that you can easily find at your local feed store or veterinary office. Electrolytes are also formulated into a powder product that can be safely applied to feed, or directly in the water. If you apply the electrolyte powder directly to the water, we strongly recommend providing a bucket of regular clean water and one bucket of clean water with the electrolyte solution in case the horse does not care for the taste. In addition, salt blocks may be added to the horse’s environment to provide salts that will increase thirst, and therefore increase water intake.
If you have any questions regarding adequate water management and hydration for your horse, please contact your regular veterinarian or our office at Equine Veterinary Services at 972.524.7075.
Equine Veterinary Services