If you answered: “The need for proper hydration & salt replenishment due to excessive sweating", you would be CORRECT!
Did you know that your horse’s requirement for salt can increase significantly during excessive heat days?
Dr. Suzanne suggests you offer loose, free-choice salt to your horse. Providing free access to salt helps trigger a thirst response and keeps your horse hydrated year-round, especially during the dog days of summer. Your horse may prefer loose salt in a grain bucket or feed pan more than a salt block because they can consume it more easily.
NOTE: make sure you are offering salt to your horses that is intended for animal consumption – NaCl, iodized table salt, or plain white salt. A salt block is better than not having any salt available free choice but may not be as effective in maintaining salt intake when high intakes are required in hot weather.
How much salt does your horse need? Horses require 1 to 2 ounces of salt per day to help meet their daily requirement for sodium and chloride. When they are sweating more due to increased exercise or extreme heat, horses can require 4 to 6 ounces of salt daily. Commercial feeds contain 0.5% to 1.0% salt.
Inadequate salt in the diet can cause all sorts of health issues for your horse. If your horse isn't getting enough salt, he may sweat less or even stop sweating altogether. That's super dangerous, especially on days that are excessively hot. Not getting enough salt can result in abnormal eating behavior like licking objects that have no salt in them (wooden fence posts, stall doors, etc) or licking and eating dirt. Inadequate salt intake, especially during periods of high heat, can also decrease water intake, which increases your horse’s risk of impaction colic. In the most extreme cases, your horse may stop eating and may experience a lack of muscle coordination.
If your horse is salt-starved, limit the amount of free-choice salt you offer until they have adjusted their intake.
As always, it’s essential that your horse has access to fresh clean water at an appropriate temperature at all times.
Helping our horses endure Wisconsin weather extremes is not exceedingly difficult, but it’s an important aspect of caring for your horse. If you’re concerned about your horse’s health and wellness during weather extremes, give Dr. Suzanne a call.