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Beat the heat

By Daniel H. Grove, DVM - August 8th, 2018 - Ask the Vet

wordpress_column_groveWell, August is here and so is the heat. July showed us some very hot temperatures, but we still have the late summer and early fall heat waves to deal with. We have discussed most of this before, so here are some reminders.

1. The cornerstone to surviving this heat for our horses is water. Access to plenty of clean and cool water is essential.

2. Electrolytes are lost through sweating. They also can increase water intake when added to the diet. 2-3 tablespoons a few times a day can be beneficial.

3. Shade makes a huge difference in how our animals can deal with the heat. While they will not always use it, it is highly recommended to provide so they have the option.

4. Airflow is important. Just like us, horses sweat to remove heat. If you increase the rate of evaporation from the horse, you increase the effects of cooling. A barn fan can be very helpful, and it has the added bonus of decreasing the flies in that area.

5. Plan for the heat. Change your riding schedule to either early morning (probably the coolest time) or early evening. When it is too hot, that midday trail ride might need to be postponed.

Those are some tips on preventing problems. Now, let’s go over some signs you have a problem:

1. Decreased manure output. If you horse is defecating less or it is becoming small and hard, you may have a water intake problem.

2. Excessive panting and sweating can be signs your horse is overheated. Take its temperature. It should be below 102°F.

3. If your horse is overheated and is NOT sweating, you may be in an emergency situation. This would be entering the realm of heat stroke. Seek veterinary help immediately.

If you notice any of these things, you may want to at least call your veterinarian and seek advice. While you are waiting, cooling of your horse with cool water from the hose is something you can do to help while you are waiting.

Stay cool and enjoy your summer.


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