Veterinarians See Rise of Impact Colic During Winter Months
 By Winniefield Park   •   17th Nov 2013   •   1,604 views   •   0 comments
Veterinarians See Rise of Impact Colic During Winter MonthsOn a very hot summer day, there may be nothing more refreshing than a cold drink of water. We all know that adequate water is essential to prevent dehydration and heat stroke in both humans and horses. But, just because the heat is gone and your horse may not appear to be sweating, doesn't mean that your horse doesn't need plenty of fresh clean water. It's just important in the winter months as it is during the summer, although for a slightly different reason.

During the warmer weather, your horse may be eating grass, which in addition to nutrients and fiber, also contains a lot of moisture. This moisture, in addition to the water it drinks, is very important for keeping the horse's digestive system moving. During the winter months, when horses are eating dry hay, they are not getting as much moisture. If the water in their trough or bucket is uncomfortably cold, or they are left to eat snow they may not be getting adequate amounts (melt a cup of snow and see how much actual water is left). This is why veterinarians see a rise in the number of impaction colics during the winter months.

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In addition to not getting enough moisture, eating snow lowers a horse's body temperature, increasing its demand for energy to stay warm. Horses without adequate drinkable water not only become dehydrated, they can also lose weight.

Signs your horse might not be getting enough water are:

• Dry manure
• Less manure
• Lack of energy
• Dry mouth
• Decreased skin elasticity

So how do we make sure our horses are getting enough water in the winter? Here are some ideas:

1. Mix warm water into cold if using individual buckets, to take the chill off. A study using ponies during cold weather found warming the water close to 90F degrees increased their water consumption by forty percent. But on average, water should be 45F or higher.

2. Use a trough heater or heated bucket to prevent water from getting icy.

3. Don't rely on natural water sources. The water may be too cold to drink comfortably, and slippery approaches due to ice and mud may make horses hesitant to use them. The water quality may not be safe either.

4. Add an extra helping (a tablespoon extra or so, more if your horse isn't being fed concentrates) of salt to your horse's feed.

5. Soak feeds such as pelleted concentrate, apple pomace, beet pulp or hay cubes.

Another strange little problem that may be more evident in winter when the ground is damp is something called 'tingle voltage'. Tingle voltage is harmless stray electrical current that runs through the earth. Its origins are grounded electrical systems like the wiring in your barn, defective electrical equipment and even phone and gas lines. While it's harmless, it is nevertheless alarming when you encounter it. It feels like a mild shock from an electric fence, and you may notice it when using your hot tub or pool as well. When a horse puts its nose to the water in its trough, it may get a little zap — enough to dissuade it from drinking. If you suspect tingle voltage, call an electrician who can help you determine the source of the stray current and recommend the best way to eliminate it.

Image Credit: © Olga Itina |
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