Hot weather can be fatal to horses if they become dehydrated. Sweating due to work, lack of palatable water, even clover slobbers can lead to dehydration.
Dehydration is the result of more fluid being lost than is taken in. It can be caused by increased sweating or urination, fever, diarrhea, and hemorrhage (bleeding).
Signs of dehydration:
Slightly higher temperature
Skin appears dry and wrinkled, loses pliability (pinch test)
In severe dehydration depression, coma, circulatory collapse, muscle tremors and death can occur.
Prevention – Provide clean, cool, fresh water available at all times. Make sure buckets are clean.
Do not overwork during heat, have horse in good condition. Ride early in the morning or in late evenings when it is cooler. Hose your horse down after working to cool him/her off.
Have salt available free choice and shade for the horse.
Treatment - If dehydration is due to lack of water allow your horse to drink in small, frequent amounts. When dehydration is due to excessive fluid loss or horse does not respond after drinking water, or won’t drink, call the vet.
In hot weather monitor your horse’s vital signs:
Normal Temperature (adult horse) – 99.5 – 101.5 degrees
Normal Pulse at rest – 30-40 pulses per minute
Normal Respiration at rest – 8-16 breaths per minute