Heat stroke is a serious concern for horses in hot weather, whether they are being exercised or standing in their stalls. Understanding the signs of heat stroke and knowing how to prevent it is essential for every horse owner. This article will cover the signs of heat stroke, how to prevent it, and what to do if your horse is suffering from heat stroke.
Know Your Horse:
One of the most important things you can do to prevent heat stroke in your horse is to know your horse’s normal temperature, heart rate, and respiratory rate. A horse’s normal temperature ranges from 99 to 101.5°F. A normal heart rate is between 28 to 44 beats per minute, while a normal respiratory rate is between 8 to 16 breaths per minute. To take your horse’s pulse, locate the artery on the underside of the jaw or behind the knee. To take your horse’s respiratory rate, watch the flank rise and fall while counting the breaths.
Signs of Heat Stroke:
If your horse is suffering from heat stroke, you will see signs of elevated heart rate, excessive sweating, and a temperature that persists above 103°F. Your horse may also appear depressed or lethargic, and may have signs of dehydration, such as dry mucous membranes, poor capillary refill, and poor skin turgor. Heat stroke can occur even if your horse is not being exercised, so it is important to monitor your horse’s behavior and environment.
Preventing heat stroke in horses is all about keeping them cool and hydrated. If your horse is being exercised, make sure to ride during the coolest parts of the day, such as early morning or late evening. During hot weather, avoid strenuous exercise and provide your horse with plenty of shade and cool water to drink. If your horse is standing in a stall or trailer, make sure there is good ventilation and access to cool water.
Move the Air:
Fans are a great way to help keep the air moving in the barn, but use them wisely. Always ensure that your horse can’t get a hold of cords and plugs. Place fans high up on the walls, angled down, to create a cross-breeze. This will help to circulate air and cool your horse down. Fans should be cleaned and maintained regularly to prevent the buildup of dust and other allergens.
What to Do if Your Horse is Suffering from Heat Stroke:
If you suspect your horse is suffering from heat stroke, the first thing you should do is get him into a cooler environment. Move your horse to a shaded area or an air-conditioned barn. Hose him down with cool water or sponge him off with a wet towel. Make sure he has access to cool, clean water to drink. Call your veterinarian immediately and follow their instructions. In severe cases, your horse may need to be hospitalized for treatment.
Heat stroke is a serious concern for horses in hot weather, but it is preventable. By knowing your horse’s normal behavior and environment, you can take steps to keep him cool and hydrated. If you suspect your horse is suffering from heat stroke, act quickly and seek veterinary attention immediately. By being aware of the signs of heat stroke and taking preventive measures, you can keep your horse healthy and happy during the hot summer months.