In the horse’s diet, electrolytes are a specialty group of nutrients within the larger group of macrominerals, those needed in significant quantities. Electrolytes are responsible for maintenance of acid-base balance and osmotic regulation of body fluids. Without electrolytes, the body is not capable of maintaining the right amount of fluid in and around cells. Electrolytes also play key roles in transmission of nerve impulses and muscle contraction.
These minerals are lost through sweat and excesses are voided in the urine. The electrolytes lost in greatest quantities in sweat are sodium, chloride, and potassium. Smaller quantities of calcium and magnesium are also present in sweat, as are minuscule amounts of other trace minerals.
Once the horse starts sweating a lot, whether it is with exercise or exposure to high heat, the horse’s electrolyte reservoir may not be adequate in supplying sufficient electrolytes. The horse will benefit from supplemental electrolytes in these instances.
Horses with insufficient electrolyte concentrations in their body are at risk for earlier onset of fatigue and therefore have less stamina. Signs of more severe dehydration are unsteady gait, uncoordinated muscle contractions, trembling, and muscle weakness. The horse may lose interest in drinking even when dehydrated, because when both water and electrolytes are lost, the physiological trigger that tells a horse when to drink malfunctions.
A well-formulated electrolyte supplement should be primarily sodium chloride (salt). Other ingredients may include sources of potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Sugar is added to some preparations to enhance palatability. Sugar is not necessary for optimal absorption of electrolytes and may excessively dilute the more valuable ingredients delivering needed electrolytes.
Which Solution Is Right for Your Horse?
Restore® Electrolyte for performance horses. A scientifically formulated electrolyte supplement designed to match the composition of horse sweat. Restore is designed to replenish electrolytes in any situation where horses may have sweated, particularly after training, travel, racing, competition, or during hot weather.
Restore® Paste Buffered oral electrolyte paste for horses that sweat. A carefully formulated electrolyte paste to match the composition of sweat. Restore Paste is an easy-to-administer product that includes a buffering agent designed to support gastrointestinal comfort in horses.
Endura-Max® Essential electrolyte for hard-working and endurance horses. Endura-Max is an essential electrolyte, with available sources of calcium and magnesium designed specifically for hard-working and endurance horses.
Race Recovery™ Racing Optimised Electrolyte. Powder is an innovative electrolyte supplement designed specifically for horses given furosemide. Research at Kentucky Equine Research (KER) found that horses given furosemide require additional supplementation following exertion to maintain optimal electrolyte balance.
- Electrolytes for Horses: Just the Basics
- What Are Electrolytes and Why Are They Important?
- Electrolytes and Muscle Function: What's the Connection?
- Assessing Sweat Loss and Electrolyte Needs in Horses
- Electrolytes Vital for Performance Horses
- Equine Electrolyte Supplements: Three Tips
- Electrolyte Supplementation in Horses: No Benefit to Include Sugar
- Q&A: Electrolytes for a Barrel-Racing Horse During a Double-Header Rodeo