Water is the most vital component of the equine diet, but it is often overlooked when considering your horse's nutritional needs. Hydration influences several aspects of horse health, including exercise tolerance, digestion, and temperature regulation. Not only do you need to ensure that your horse drinks enough water, but also that your horse has good quality water available. Testing water quality helps to determine whether your horse's water supply is safe for consumption and whether you need to consider a water treatment or filtration system. A water analysis will also tell you about the mineral levels present. This can help you address any potential dietary imbalances caused by water intake.
A large, round belly doesn't always mean your horse is overweight. Some horses have a hay belly that makes them appear pregnant, yet they may struggle to maintain enough body condition to cover their ribs. While multiple factors contribute to abdominal distention in horses, poor hindgut fermentation of high-fibre, low-quality forage is the primary culprit. These horses may not be getting enough energy and protein from their diet, leading to poor topline and body condition. Dietary changes or gut support are necessary to get rid of the hay belly.
Antibiotics or antimicrobial drugs are effective medications for the treatment of bacterial infections in horses. Common equine infections requiring antibiotics include infected skin wounds and abscesses, pneumonia, infectious diarrhea, cellulitis, peritonitis and more. Many antibiotics have broad-spectrum action meaning they act against many different bacteria. Others more specifically target certain bacterial strains. Your veterinarian can determine which antibiotic is appropriate for your horse given their medical situation. These drugs are not without risks, and they can have adverse effects on horse health when given without veterinary oversight.
Horses may not require as much sleep as humans, but quality sleep is still vital for your equine's overall health and well-being. Although horses can sleep standing up thanks to their unique stay apparatus, REM sleep is only possible when they are lying down, and their muscles can relax. Many factors can prevent a horse from getting enough quality sleep and lead to signs of sleep deprivation. Factors include pain, injury, health conditions, loud or bright barn environments, and even social hierarchy. While equine sleep disorders are still poorly understood, horse owners should be aware of the signs of sleep deprivation in horses and take action to improve their horse's sleep quality.
Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are two of the most common ingredients found in equine joint products. These natural supplements are purported to promote mobility and joint comfort in hard-working performance horses and aging seniors. But despite their commercial success, there is limited research to support the efficacy of glucosamine or chondroitin in horses. Although studies in humans, other animals and cell cultures suggest potential benefits, the results are not as promising when these supplements are fed to horses. The poor results in horses are likely because these compounds are not well absorbed from the gut and are typically used at much lower doses than the amounts used in cell culture studies.