Don’t Be (Too) Salty: Saline Water Could Provide Rehydration Solutions - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report
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Don’t Be (Too) Salty: Saline Water Could Provide Rehydration Solutions

During periods of hot weather, horses can lose large amounts of sodium as their bodies seek to dissipate heat via sweating. Unfortunately, in cases of excessive sweating, horses cannot replace all the sodium they lose through voluntary water intake, requiring saline solutions to rehydrate them and balance their electrolytes. 

A study led by Dr. Nick Enke, of the Department of Animal Sciences, University of Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany, sought to determine the sensitivity of Shetland ponies to water that contained varying levels of sodium. 

The study used six nonpregnant pony mares between the ages of 4 and 15 that had no prior experience with saline water. 

The research team conducted the study in three phases: control, which had access to only fresh water; a pairwise preference test where horses had a choice between fresh water and water with saline in increasing doses: 0.25 percent, 0.5 percent, 0.75 percent, 1.0 percent, 1.25 percent and 1.5 percent; and a free choice test where six buckets with the sodium concentrations between 0 and 1.25 percent were provided simultaneously.

During the pairwise test, the ponies showed no differentiation between the fresh and the 0.25 percent sodium water, and clearly preferred the 0.5 percent sodium water. Water with 0.75 percent sodium concentrations and above were avoided. During the free choice test, the ponies showed a preference for fresh water over all saline options. 

The researchers noted that the ponies did not decrease their use of the salt lick in response to drinking sodium water. The ponies also were capable of detecting the varying levels of sodium in the water. The scientists concluded that water with low amounts of sodium added has a potential to be a voluntary rehydration solution. 

Read more at Veterinary 33

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