Thursday, September 02, 2010

The electrolyte debate heats up - Full Article

Sep 1, 2010
By: Kenneth L. Marcella, DVM

To supplement or not to supplement—and, if so, how much—is the question in these dog days of summer

At an equine endurance competition at Big South Fork National Forest in Tennessee this summer, the combined heat and humidity pushed the heat index to a dangerous 150 degrees. Intense heat and humidity have been the norm for much of the country this year, but equine athletic events continue to be held. During these dog days of summer, equine veterinarians must be aware of and prepared to treat the potential problems facing equine athletes performing under these harsh conditions.

Often clients will consult their veterinarians regarding conditioning, nutrition, supplementation and managing horses exercising in extreme heat. These recommendations have traditionally included electrolyte supplementation. Joe Pagan, PhD, of Kentucky Equine Research calls electrolytes "essential nutrients for the performance horse," and adds that along with being essential for maximal performance, electrolyte supplementation "helps horses rebound from hard work sooner, return to feed quicker and begin the necessary rebuilding phase that occurs after exertion."

The essential elements of the electrolyte debate used to be which electrolyte mix to recommend, how much to use and when to administer it...

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