Understanding Electrolyte Formulas

Proper electrolyte balance and hydration should be a main priority for horse owners. In stressful situations, such as travel, breeding, or heavy training, horses might not be taking in all the fluids they need. In some cases, feeding daily electrolytes is recommended for horses working in performance and endurance disciplines, pre- and post-event animal care, or with increased temperature or humidity, says Jack Grogan, CN, and chief science officer for Uckele Health & Nutrition.

Grogan explains that many effective electrolyte formulas contain balanced amounts of the major electrolytes sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and chloride: "Highly concentrated products offer the best advantage because smaller amounts can be utilized to give the greatest benefit."

He adds that these products often aid hard-working horses in maintaining mineral balance, maintaining the balance and flow of vital body fluids, transmitting nerve impulses, and maintaining healthy function of the muscles and the circulatory system.

Owners can easily add powdered electrolyte supplements to horses' water or feed. To reduce metabolic stress and maintain proper electrolyte balance, nutritionists and veterinarians might recommend a well-balanced, electrolyte-rich, low-sugar product. Grogan says that although some sugar or carbohydrate is required to improve hydration and absorption of the electrolytes, some products are high in carbohydrate content with only a little bit of added salt.

"The result is that horse owners are basically paying for sugar without receiving the full electrolyte benefit," Grogan cautions. "Consuming too much sugar can actually increase electrolyte losses and make it more difficult to maintain a balanced electrolyte level in the blood and the tissues." Grogan recommends electrolyte products that offer a sufficient intake of essential vitamins, probiotics, and electrolytes in one dose: "They not only provide the electrolytes in a low-sugar base, but include a number of nutrients and supplements that are important in helping the horse's body to manage the effects of any stressful event much more efficiently. This includes the B-Complex vitamins, Vitamin E, and the probiotics for gut health."

He also suggests a full-spectrum electrolyte paste in a tube that can be used pre- and post-event, or anytime a horse has an immediate or increased need for electrolytes: "This type of delivery system is a trail-worthy, easy, and convenient way to ensure adequate electrolyte intake."

About the Author

Uckele Health and Nutrition

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with FREE weekly newsletters from TheHorse.com. Learn More