Winter is coming… Cooler temperatures are already here. This is typically when horses tend to decrease their water intake, which can mean trouble if nothing is done to "force’" them to drink. As explained in one of our previous post, adding pure salt (100% NaCl) to the ration is a must to prevent dehydration. Wetting the feed, especially if it’s high in super fibers (beet pulp, soya hulls) is another great way to increase water intake. Serving buckets of warm water (18 -20O C) or using water heaters is a definite necessity when temperatures are dropping near or below freezing point.
But how do you know if your horse is dehydrated? Here are common symptoms of dehydration:
• Skin test: skin takes more than 1or 2 seconds to go back into place
• Water content in feces: feces is dry and when you press on them with your foot, little water comes out of them
• Decreased appetite: horse may leave hay and feed
• Attitude problems: dehydrated horses can show abnormal laziness or excitability
• Dehydrated appearance: horse has sunken eyes & tucked-up appearance in the flank
As you can see, it’s pretty easy to have an idea of the hydration status of your horse. So next time you are in the stall take few seconds to look at your horse, see if it’s eating normally, do the pinch test and look at the texture of their manure. If something doesn’t seem right, it’s time to act to prevent potential health problems like impaction colic or choke. Remember an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.