What is the importance of electrolytes for horses?

What are electrolytes?

Metal: The body cannot produce these inorganic nutrients on its own. Therefore, it must be taken with food.

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Why does a horse need electrolytes?

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• Electrolytes include: Sodium, Chloride, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium and Phosphorous

• The three most important electrolytes are: sodium, chloride, and potassium. They are fundamental to the vital processes in the body.

• Electrolytes are ions, ie molecules dissolved in water that have a positive electric charge (eg sodium) or a negative electric charge (eg chloride).

Why does a horse need electrolytes?

Electrolytes perform many vital tasks in the body:

Regulating the acid-base balance: among other things, they ensure the correct pH value in the blood; For horses 7.35 – 7.45.

transmission of electrical impulses: With their electrical charge, they transmit nerve signals, for example.

Regulating water balance and fluid distribution in the body: Electrolytes determine osmotic pressure. which regulates the distribution of fluids in and out of the body’s cells. It is also responsible for the feeling of thirst and the concentration of urine.

How does deficiency arise?

heavy sweating When sweating, the horse loses not only fluids, but also electrolytes. How much a horse sweats depends, among other things, on the intensity of work and humidity. Endurance horses can lose up to 35 liters of sweat per ride in the heat.

Illness: Diarrhea here is an example. Important electrolytes are lost with the fluid. But even with colic, a deficiency can occur due to choking or intestinal obstruction.

Bad feed: In rare cases, it can happen that the horse does not take in enough electrolytes from the feed, for example because the hay does not contain enough nutrients and is not fed additional minerals.

What are the symptoms of electrolyte deficiency?

Water Refusal: A common symptom such as drinking water reduces the concentration of electrolytes in the body. Therefore, in the event of a deficiency, one must first provide electrolytes, but then it is necessary to provide water.

muscle problems: When there is a lack of electrolytes, the blood thickens. Therefore, the muscles are no longer supplied with enough blood and become acidic. Muscle tension, spasms, and cross-locks can be consequences.

exhaustion: Extreme fatigue or a significant decrease in performance could indicate a deficiency.

Cardiovascular problems: Deficiency of electrolytes can also be a cause of symptoms of circulatory problems such as pallor of the mucous membranes, apathy or vacillation.

How do you nourish electrolytes?

In the event of a severe deficiency or imminent stress, electrolytes can be fed. When looking for a suitable product, many people start to sweat: what is right for my horse?

pellets: Since the pellets must first pass through the digestive system with the feed, the horse absorbs them more slowly. So it is suitable if you are specifically preparing for pregnancy.

paste: booster between. You can put it directly in your mouth. Ideal when things have to go fast, for example during a break while riding long distances.

Concentrated syrup: Due to its liquid form, the horse can absorb it especially quickly, since it does not need to be digested with feed like pellets and often has a higher glucose content. Often administered in water.

powder: For mixing into feed or in water – depending on intended use (quick preparation or replacement).

Electrolyte supplement with daily feed

As with many other things, the basis of a good supply of electrolytes is a basic, well-balanced diet adapted to the horse.

bran: Good hay is everything and the end of everything, hay provides a horse with many nutrients and therefore also electrolytes such as potassium. With adequate hay fed, the horse forms a reservoir of water and electrolytes in the large intestine. So it is well supplied with electrolytes.

mineral feed: Especially during times when nutrient-rich hay is difficult to obtain, it is important to provide horses with additional mineral feed tailored to their individual needs.

lick the salt: Every horse should have a salt lick to be able to make up for the loss of sodium chloride if necessary.

water: Since water and electrolytes are always attached to the body, it is very important that a horse has access to fresh water at all times. A wet horse is the best prerequisite to prevent deficiency.

Additives in electrolyte products

Now if you look around in the jungle of electrolyte products, you’ll notice that some products don’t just contain electrolytes like sodium, chloride, potassium, or magnesium. One reads over and over again: glucose, zinc, or vitamins.

glucose: It is also found as dextrose or glucose. As a messenger substance, it ensures that electrolytes are available quickly and makes them delicious for the horse.

vitamins: They mainly contain solid supplements. Vitamins should provide additional support to the horse after great effort and enable rapid regeneration.

trace elements: With heavy sweating, trace elements such as zinc can also be lost. So it makes sense to bring it back after a great deal of stress, too.

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