Anhidrosis in horses: sweat tests, electrolytes/supplements/management
What is anhidrosis?
Anhidrosis is the loss of the ability to sweat in response to appropriate stimuli (Breuhaus, 2009).
How do I know if my horse is anhidrotic?
While there are clinical signs that coincide with anhidrosis, the only sure way is a test called a “sweat test”. A veterinarian conducting this test will use a series of injections of diluted terbutaline that stimulates the sweat glands to produce certain amounts of sweat. If a horse produces less sweat than the normal threshold, it is considered anhidrotic. There are other symptoms that come with an anhidrotic horse, lack of perspiration aside or in some cases, overproduction of sweat at a younger age that will eventually dissipate over time. Clinical signs include dry skin, tachypnea, hyperthermia, decreased water intake, alopecia, dull hair coat and depression.
Are there any treatments?
Unfortunately, there aren’t any treatments beyond general management. Competing might become a challenge but your horse can still live a long happy life in a working environment. In cooler months, horses may be worked relatively as normal, it is the warmer/hotter months that hinder the performance of the horse. Horses, like humans, rely heavily on the evaporation of copious amounts of sweat to cool off. This means in the hotter months, horses require restrictive work and an intense management practice to keep them healthy all season long.
Electrolytes are great to have on hand. When supplemented, electrolytes can get a horse with anhidrosis out of an anhidrotic state. When looking at purchasing an electrolyte supplement, some key things to keep in mind are the ingredients and level of ingredients. You should be looking for calcium, phosphorus, potassium, salt, copper, iron, manganese and zinc. At Southern States, we carry several options for electrolytes that will aid in the management of your anhidrotic horse.
Links to products:
Equine Nutrition Sales Specialist
Southern States Loudon County Coop – Purcellville, VA