Well it’s official, summer is here, and along with it concerns about hydration for human and beast alike. The following is a quick and easy guide designed to help you to establish if your horse is hydrated:
- The eye test: Check your horse’s eyes. The eyes should appear bright and shiny with pink moist mucus membranes. If the eye looks dry and sunken with pale mucus membranes, this could indicate dehydration.
- The pinch test: Gently pinch and twist the skin on the horse’s neck between your thumb and your forefinger. Release the pinch and within three seconds the skin should immediately fall back into place. If the pinched skin is slow to return to normal, it may indicate the horse is dehydrated. The longer the skin stays pinched, the more dehydrated the horse could be.
- The temperature test: The average temperature for a resting horse ranges between 37.5 to 38.5oC. If the horse’s temperature is elevated, it will indicate that the body is not functioning as it should and dehydration could be occurring.
- The gum test: Using your forefinger, gently press on the gum. As you place slight pressure on the gum, the colour should change from pink to white. When the pressure is released, the gum should return to pink within seconds. If the gum is dry, sticky, and pale it may indicate the horse is dehydrated.
- The heart rate and respiration test: The normal resting heart rate for the average horse is between 36-40 beats per minute. If the horse’s heart rate and respiration is elevated this is a sure indication of either dehydration or another health issue.
- The “tucked up” test: Horse owners are best placed to be aware of their horse’s condition. If the horse’s stomach is tucked up in the flanks, it may indicate dehydration.
Give your horse plenty of fresh water, and do your best to ensure it has a ‘shelter shed’ or plenty of shade.
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