Tuesdays with Tony
First off, before I talk about colic and cold weather, I’d like to thank everyone who shared their BBQ with me at my Open House on Saturday. I had a great time, and I appreciate all the scratches and compliments! Apparently my minions had a good time with you too, but I mostly stayed in the food area, so I don’t know what they had going on at their stations. Anyway, on to my topic for this week:
Not sure if anyone else has noticed, but it’s been a wee bit nippy outside the past few weeks. I know I have been puffed up like a black ball of fluff during my morning rounds outside the clinic! Your horses may be fluffed up too, or you may have dug their winter blankets out of the attic. One thing you can be certain of is that with cold snaps come winter colic events! So, what can you do to prevent your horse from falling victim?
We don’t always know what causes horses to colic, but we know that dehydration often plays a role. Ever notice how it’s tougher to get in your recommended 8 glasses of water a day when it’s cold out? Well, horses are the same way. Temperatures drop, and so does their water intake. Providing easy access to clean water at all times is the single most important thing you can do to prevent colic. Luckily I have an automatic waterer at the clinic that my minions refill daily to keep myself and Teanie well-hydrated.
Food with water
One easy way to get more fluids into your horse during colder weather is to soak their grain in water. You can also add other soaked things to their diet, like soaked beet pulp, soaked alfalfa cubes, or soaked hay pellets. If they don’t mind the soupy texture, you can feed this year-round, but it is especially encouraged during the winter months. Personally, I prefer wet food over dry, but Teanie likes the crunch of the dry more than canned. We try to make it as complicated as possible for the humans who provide our food.
Salt (so they drink more water)
You know how every time you eat Chinese take-out, you seem unable to quench your thirst the next day? That’s because of the high sodium content of the food. Along these lines, if you add a tablespoon of salt (yes, plain old salt like you have sitting on your table) to your horse’s feed, it can really encourage water intake during a cold snap. Horses tend to like some salty seasoning to their meals, and typically won’t turn down their grain due to the added salt. You can also use an over-the-counter electrolyte powder if you are feeling fancy. Speaking of fancy, I hear a can of Fancy Feast calling my name. If you want to know more about winter colic, there are some pretty awesome vets and technicians here at the clinic who would be happy to answer your questions.
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Until next time: Stay warm!