Water is imperative to your horse’s survival, but why is water consumption so important in the management of equine ulcers? Everyday behaviors, such as eating and drinking, must be analyzed in order to be proactive in the management of equine ulcers. Water consumption is extremely important for older horses and must be closely monitored. Inadequate drinking can cause a multitude of problems and cause issues when trying to manage equine ulcers.
Internal Changes
As your horse ages, his body has different demands. Additionally, mechanisms within the body that once worked seamlessly now need extra help to properly function. The digestive system of a horse relies on numerous processes in order to swallow, digest, absorb, neutralize acid, and expel. Non-elderly horses create adequate amounts of saliva, which allows them to effortlessly swallow. Furthermore, horse’s saliva contains bicarbonate, which reduces stomach acidity and buffers the stomach lining from hydrochloric acid (hydrochloric acid is what breaks down food). Many elderly horses do not produce enough saliva. This results in numerous problems, beginning with the inability to properly swallow. Dry foods are difficult for older horses to swallow due to decreases in saliva, thus leading to weight loss and long periods without food. Without saliva to help swallow, or to act as a buffer, older horses can quickly become susceptible to ulcers. Providing your older horse with copious amounts of water, as well as soaking their food can help aid swallowing as well as keep their stomach from becoming empty.
You Can Lead a Horse to Water, but You Can’t Make Them Drink
Providing your horse with water is wonderful, but how do you know if he is drinking enough? Horses drink, on average, 5 to 10 gallons a day. Symptoms of dehydration include: lethargy, dry skin, drawn up flanks, dull eyes, and thick saliva. Adequate water consumption in older horses is extremely important as their saliva production is already compromised. Severe dehydration can lead to colic impaction, which can be life threatening for any horse, especially older equines.
Keeping your older horse hydrated is extremely important. Older horses need copious amounts of water in order to lubricate their digestive system that is at risk due to decreased amounts of saliva. Older horses are prone to ulcers too, but with proper ulcer management practices, we can decrease their risk.