Water is often considered the most important nutrient for horses to consume. A horse should always be provided access to fresh and clean water, as water makes up around 70% of their total body weight. It is important to follow the appropriate steps to protect your horse from the harmful effects of dehydration to optimize their health and prevent serious issues. Understanding the importance of water can help you to implement this to your horse’s diet.
How Much Water Horses Need
Horses are much more likely to survive without food than they are without water. Most horses can survive nearly a month without food but less than a week without water. In fact, incredibly dangerous symptoms can occur after just two days without water. The amount of water that a horse needs to stay hydrated depends primarily on their total body weight. A horse tends to consume about 5-15 gallons of water per day on average. Other factors may impact the total required amount of water, such as the external temperatures, amount of exercise of the horse, as well as the horse’s regular diet. Broodmares also require additional water as water is required to produce milk for foals. Ensure that your horse always has water available to them. If you use an automatic waterer, make sure to check it daily to ensure that it is functioning appropriately.
Can a Horse Drink Too Much Water?
It is most common to be concerned that your horse isn’t drinking enough water rather than drinking too much. However, there may be some situations where a horse will drink excessive amounts of water. In many cases this is attributed to boredom, stress, or confinement and the problem can be resolved by turning the horse out more frequently. However, when paired with excessive urination and other symptoms, such as loss of appetite or weight, excessive water consumption may indicate problems with the horse’s health. This is a common side effect of Cushing’s Disease, kidney failure, and other illnesses. If your horse is exhibiting these symptoms, you should obtain the services of a veterinarian. Never restrict your horse’s access to water unless it is done under the supervision of a veterinarian, as this can exacerbate the issues and even result in other dangerous illnesses.
Water Consumption with the Weather
A horse requires substantial amounts of water no matter what time of year it is. It is just as important for horses to drink water during the winter as it is during the summer. Keep in mind that snow is not a viable water supply for a horse. During the winter months, dehydration can become an issue despite the lower temperatures and decreased exercise demands. For one thing, a horse’s diet is generally much drier during winter than summer. Another consideration is that water can freeze during the winter, which can prevent your horse from obtaining access to the water that they need.
Ensure that water is at a comfortable temperature year-round. This means that cool water should be provided in the summer, while warm water should be provided in the winter months. Implementing an automatic waterer can go a long way toward regulating the water temperature, as it keeps water warmer in the winter months and cooler during the summer months.
The Importance of Water and the Dangers of Dehydration
Dehydration can result in many serious issues for a horse. It is important to understand the importance of water. Water helps to facilitate digestion in horses, so when they are dehydrated, serious blockage can occur. One of the most prominent and devastating impacts of water deprivation is colic, which can occur in just 48 hours without water. Insufficient water will cause a horse to be lethargic and have poor performance. In addition, a lack of water can cause colic, kidney damage, weight loss, collapse, and death.
There are several signs of dehydration, so keeping an eye on your horse can help to ensure that you prevent these issues from occurring. When you check the gums of your horse, they should be moist and pink. Sunken flanks or eyes may also indicate the likelihood of dehydration. Regular, even breathing is standard for a horse. Panting may indicate dehydration. Additionally, the skin should maintain high levels of elasticity. If you pinch the skin on the horse’s neck, it should snap back immediately. Delayed returning to its prior condition may be caused by dehydration.
How to Coax your Horse to Drink More Water
If your horse becomes dehydrated, you will need to take steps to encourage the horse to drink more water. Horses are incredibly sensitive to both the smell and taste of their water, which can cause them to be picky where their water consumption is concerned. This can become a bigger issue when traveling with your horse. Prior to traveling, you may want to consider flavoring the water for several days so that you can similarly flavor the water located elsewhere. You may also wish to bring water from home to ensure that your horse will have access to water that they will drink. If you use an automatic waterer, you should provide a water bucket to new horses until you observe them drinking from the automatic waterer.
Offering a salt block or adding salt supplements to your horse’s diet can encourage them to drink more water. Ensure that your horse always has access to clean, fresh water that is at a comfortable temperature for the time of year. This can be accomplished easily with the use of an automatic watering system, though it is still important to check the system on a daily basis.
Get an Automatic Waterer!
Automatic waterers can go a long way toward enhancing your horse’s water consumption. They will ensure that they are always able to obtain the water that they need, no matter what the time of year. Here at the Horsedrinker, we believe that animals, electricity, and water are a recipe for disaster. For this reason, we have constructed an automatic waterer that is completely electricity free, while still providing all of the benefits of an automatic waterer. To learn more about our watering systems, contact our experts today!