Heat Stress in Horses

(Chris) Hello, I’m Dr. Chris Blevins for Horsin’ Around and I’m here at Kansas State University Veterinary Health Center. Today we’re going to talk about heat stress when it comes to the horse. We’ve always had those concerns with any of the species and you know cattle is a big one you hear all about heat stress during the summer months. And even us as people. But don’t ever forget about your other type of animals too, including the horse. The horse does have a very good protective mechanism when it comes to heat and that is sweat. Horses do sweat more than other species, very similar to us when it comes to heat and trying to cool themselves off. So, sweating does help. But with humidity, sweating sometimes isn’t helpful for the cooling aspect. So, if they’re going to cool off with sweating, they get depleted from different things. One being water in their own body. And so making sure that your horse has plenty of water at all times, especially during the summer, is very important and very crucial. The other thing to remember is that with sweat and what is in sweat is also salt. And sometimes some owners they forget to have free access for your horse in salt blocks or some kind of a salt situation and in the feed or even just a block that’s by water sources or in the barn. So, don’t forget about making sure that your horse has access to salt at all times. They might be like thinking that maybe they’re not gonna eat the salt or it goes very slow, or in some horses they’ll go very rapidly, they’ll even chew off parts of salt. It’s all dependent on what they need. They will never really eat too much salt, especially if they have access to water during that same time frame. So again, those things are very crucial in making sure that you’re protecting your horse from the heat and the very thing that they can do for themselves is sweating, drinking plenty of water, and having access to salt. The other thing about horses and with any other species, is shade and breeze and air flow. All of those things also will help with maintaining the body temperature of the horse and where they would like to be to be comfortable. Obviously kind of like cattle, a lot of times the horses would like that 60 to 70 degree temperature frame as being their comfort zone where they’re not going to be sweating. But that’s kind of hard to do for some horses even in barn situations. But making sure that you have good fans associated with blowing and circulating air if there’s not air flow within barns or even outside. Sometimes the owners will even put in their lean-to barns some fans so that horses can stand by there as they want to and use them. The fans are also beneficial for flies, by blowing the flies actually off of the horse. And so again, another important realm or thing to think about when it comes to heat and even insects is airflow and fans associated with that onto your horse. If you’re ever concerned and have issues where you think your horse is heat stressed, or maybe some horses don’t even sweat, consult your veterinarian, get them involved to make sure everything is going well. Make sure your horse is in a comfortable environment during hot time frames of the year. Again, if you have any other questions, you can always give us a call here at Kansas State University Veterinary Health Center and we can help you with any aspect or any question you might have about heat stress, when it comes to your horse or any other species here at the University. I’m Dr. Chris Blevins for Horsin’ Around and we’ll see you around.

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