In partnership with Allen & Page…

If your horse is exercising hard during the hot weather, he may be working up quite a sweat. Allen & Page nutritionist Jo Palmer debunks whether a salt lick is really enough, or whether an electrolyte supplement is necessary to keep him healthy.

Are electrolytes necessary in my horse’s diet?

If your horse is working hard and sweating routinely, adding an electrolyte supplement to his diet would be beneficial. Electrolytes are the minerals sodium, chloride, calcium, potassium and magnesium, which are lost in a horse’s faeces, urine and sweat. It is important to replenish these lost minerals to restore the correct balance within your horse’s body. 

Feeding a high quality balanced feed at the recommended amount for your horse’s size and workload is usually sufficient to meet the electrolyte needs of most horses in light work. 

Should I offer a salt lick to my horse as well

A salt lick can be provided in the field or stable, but although it is a good source of sodium chloride, it will not provide the other important electrolytes. Salt lick intakes should also be monitored to avoid over-consumption.

The more a horse sweats the more electrolytes he will lose, and so for a horse who is active and regularly working up a sweat, the provision of an electrolyte supplement will help to keep an ideal balance of all the essential minerals. 

Electrolyte supplements can be added to either feed or water, and oral syringes are also available. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and ensure your horse has constant access to plain, fresh water to aid hydration. 

Meet the expert: Jo Palmer has a BSc (Hons) in agriculture with animal science and is a member of the Allen & Page nutrition team. Her experience as a nutritionist helps guide horse owners on feeds and feeding.

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