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How to Use Electrolytes for Horses to Help Reduce Heat Stress

electrolytes for horses

As temperatures rise this summer, it's crucial to pay special attention to the hydra-

tion and well-being of your horse.

Similar to humans, horses control body temperature by sweating. This sweat has an

abundance of calcium, potassium, chlorides, and magnesium. When the body

sweats faster than it can replenish fluids, dehydration can occur.

As the summer heat intensifies, ensuring proper hydration for your horse becomes

even more critical. While providing clean, fresh water should always be the primary

focus, overall nutrition and electrolytes for horses are also very important.

Key Minerals to Know About

Sodium and chloride are the primary electrolytes lost in sweat. They are important

in maintaining proper fluid balance in the body. Sodium helps to retain water, while

chloride works in conjunction with sodium to maintain proper osmotic pressure. Be-

cause of this, you should always offer a free choice salt block to your horse.

Potassium is another vital electrolyte that plays a role in muscle contraction and

nerve function. There’s what’s known as the sodium potassium pump (there are four

subtypes of pumps). The volume-controlling subtype pump helps maintain Na⁺-K⁺ at

the right concentrations of ions.

It is important for potassium to be present to push enough sodium out of the cell to

maintain osmolarity. Otherwise, excessive water retention can occur.

How to Use Electrolytes for Horses

We can find these critical minerals important for proper hydration through elec-

trolyte hydration supplements.

Electrolytes are designed to maintain a higher cation (positive electrical charge) in

the body so that pH can be maintained and body fluids regulated. Cations are

present in potassium and sodium — just like in the Gatorade athletes drink after

sports games.

Calcium is important in cells to help muscle contraction, while magnesium works

with calcium to ensure healthy and efficient muscle function. Magnesium pushes

the calcium through the ion channel after calcium contracts muscle fibers, and in re-

turn, helps control muscle contractions.

Long-distance bike riders often have a roll of Rolaids on hand to help reduce muscle

cramps when dehydration occurs. That’s because Rolaids are rich in calcium and

magnesium and help both maintain gut pH and muscle contraction. Combine these with yeast products (postbiotics and probiotics) to maintain a

healthy digestive system and you have a winning combination. Digestive aids at

clinically researched levels during heat stress improve nutrient absorption and re-

duce inflammation, particularly when you use products such as Diamond V Yeast


Yeast products help gut health and nutrient assimilation, which indirectly contrib-

utes to hydration and equine well-being.

Signs Your Horse Is Dehydrated

Look out for warning signs such as:

• Concentrated, dark, strong odor urine

• Dark colored gums

• Slow recovery after workout

• Increased heart rate and respiration rate

• Lethargy

• Loss of skin elasticity

• Loss of skin elasticity

Heat stress can result in colic, kidney failure, laminitis, and digestive upsets.

The Bottom Line

So what does this all mean for your equine companion? If you are working your

horse and they are sweating excessively, you may want to consider an electrolyte

and yeast combination.

Look for an electrolyte that has salt (sodium chloride), potassium, magnesium, and

calcium. Electrolytes for horses are commonly added to water — in fact, it is very important to provide enough water when using electrolytes.

Consult with a veterinarian or equine nutritionist before starting electrolyte supple-

mentation. Electrolyte needs vary depending on many factors, such as workload,

temperature and humidity, and individual health history.

Brad Kloss is an animal nutritionist with more than 38 years of experience. He’s also

the founder of Symphony — by A Horse of Course Nutrition.

By Brad Kloss

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