Caring For Horses in Extreme Heat

“While in hot weather, requirements for maintenance and to compensate for losses in sweat may prompt intake of 20 gallons or more per day”

By Erica Larson, News Editor | TheHorse

With summer’s sunny days can come extreme heat. Such situations can cause worry for owners as they struggle to help their horses adjust, stay healthy, and remain comfortable. But with a well-thought-out management plan, horses can stay cool and comfy in the midst of summer.

To help get you started on the right track, TheHorse.com caught up with Nancy Loving, DVM, an equine practitioner in Boulder, Colorado, to find out what the most important things to consider are when caring for horses in extreme heat.

When dealing with hot temperatures, Loving said the most important thing an owner can do is provide his or her horse with plenty of fresh water.

“Clean water should always be available; an average horse needs five to seven gallons of water per day in cool weather, while in hot weather, requirements for maintenance and to compensate for losses in sweat may prompt intake of 20 gallons or more per day,” she explained. “Horses in a herd should have access to a couple of water tanks spaced a distance apart so dominant horses don’t prevent a thirsty, more timid horse from drinking.

Adding an electrolyte supplement to your horse’s diet could help keep him drinking and restore the electrolyte balances disrupted by sweating, and horses should have access to a salt block or receive a daily salt supplement (no more than a tablespoon per day) to allow them to meet their dietary sodium chloride requirements.

Additionally, she added that for a horse that doesn’t drink well, offering a watery gruel of a supplement (such as a complete feed pellets) rather than feeding them dry can help increase the horse’s water intake.

Insects are another concern that accompany increasing temperatures, Loving said.

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