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The Real Story on Electrolytes

In years past the use of electrolytes was eyed with something akin to suspicion. Yet after several medical studies have proven their efficiency, the supplementation of equine diets with electrolytes has become an acceptable practice.

Nonetheless, many horse owners are not entirely certain about whether or not the animals truly need and how they should be best introduced into the animalís daily nutritional regimen. While some are worried about adding any to the feed, others err on the opposite side and over-supplement, thus doing more harm than good to the animals. Generally speaking, the best results of supplementing electrolytes have been observed if low levels are added during major events in which the horse is participating and also in between competitions themselves. In addition to the foregoing, you will want to follow the dosage

recommendations and begin supplementation a few days prior to an event and continue it for a couple of days after the event.

For those wondering just what exactly electrolytes are, it is important to understand that they are minerals such as sodium, potassium, and also chloride, while to a lesser amount magnesium, calcium and also sulfur do play a role. The former should be present at higher concentration in any supplement you may consider feeding to your horse. Do not fall for some of the commercially available electrolyte mixes that are nothing but sugar. If your horse is not hard working or subjected to strenuous exercise, and if the diet you are feeding is adequate and balanced, the only supplementation you may wish to consider is salt (which is sodium and chloride) while the potassium will come from the hay.

On the other hand, if your horse is regularly exercised at hard levels, and if he is a racer or performs in endurance events, you will want to make the effort of supplementing the electrolytes; supplements will help the animal to perform at its best level and permit it to not suffer from the strain of the exercise. Generally speaking, it is considered advisable to add the supplements to the feed instead of the water, since the horse may simply not take in enough water to make the supplementation effective. Additionally, if the horse does not care for the taste, it may not drink as much water as it needs in the first place, and thus instead of doing something good for your animal, you are actually placing its health in jeopardy.

Read the next horse nutrition article on Electrolytes: Meeting Your Horses RDA.
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