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 miniscule 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® SR. Sustained-release electrolyte powder. Restore SR contains the latest technology in electrolyte therapy, including a proprietary slow-release mechanism that allows sodium to be released gradually into the gastrointestinal tract for sustained absorption. Choose Restore SR for daily replacement of electrolytes lost in sweat.
Restore® Paste. Buffered electrolyte paste. Restore Paste is an easy-to-administer paste that includes a buffering agent designed to support oral and gastrointestinal comfort in horses. Choose Restore Paste when rapid replacement of electrolytes (especially during ongoing exercise) or thirst stimulation is desired. Keep a few tubes stocked in your saddle bag, medical kit, or trailer for use when your horse needs them most.
Race Recovery™. Racing optimized electrolyte. Race Recovery Paste and Powder are innovative electrolyte supplements 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.
Learn moreWhat Are Electrolytes and Why Are They Important?