Everything That You Need To Know About Electrolyte Supplementation

Everything That You Need To Know About Electrolyte Supplementation

Passive evaporative loss from the skin in horses not exercising in a moderate temperature (5-20oC) is expected to be around 6 litres per day or less. Increased core body temperature as a result of use of muscles during exercise or high environmental temperature result in the start of sweating. The total evaporative loss of fluid in exercising horses will depend on the intensity and duration of the exercise and also the environmental temperature. With low intensity exercise (12-18 km/hour), losses can be in the range of 5-10 litres of sweat per hour, and with high intensity exercise (30-35 km/hour), these losses can increase to as much as 15 litres per hour. In endurance events, this can amount to 2-7% of body weight loss due to this fluid loss.

The main three electrolytes lost in equine sweat include sodium, potassium and chloride. Equine sweat also contains, at around 100 times lower concentrations, calcium and magnesium.


Ratios of these three ions in sweat vary, but in general potassium is present in smaller quantities than sodium and chloride. A general estimated from various studies suggest a range of ratios of these ions in sweat is as follows:  Na+: K+: Cl2-3: 1: 3-4. Plusvital Electrolyte Plus provides these three electrolytes in the correct ratio to match sweat loss. If these ions are not replaced then the consequences may include dehydration, muscular weakness, overheating, tiredness, poor performance and slower recovery after competition. Dehydrated horses have a lower blood volume which means they are less able to perfuse the skeletal muscle and skin which results in fatigue and hyperthermia. Thus, exercise increases the requirement for these three key electrolytes substantially and an efficient way to meet this demand is through dietary supplementation with an electrolyte product.[vc_single_image image=”11144″ img_size=”465×310″]Electrolytes are important for maintaining intracellular (inside cells) and extracellular (outside cells) fluid balance which is critical in controlling both blood pressure and muscular contractions. With extreme electrolyte loss, such as can occur in events such as endurance riding, there can be more severe complications such as cardiac and neurological problems. Finally, sodium is an integral part of the inherent thirst drive of a horse and when sodium is lost in sweat the thirst drive can be decreased. Thus supplementing electrolytes during and after competition can aid in maintenance of the thirst drive and keeping the horse drinking water to prevent dehydration.

Guidelines On Administering Electrolytes

– It must be stated that the exact electrolyte supplementation of an individual horse (both quantity/dose, timing of supplementation and duration of supplementation) will depend on many variables including individual metabolism, environmental weather conditions, duration and intensity of training/exercise to include just a few.

– Only administer electrolytes to horses which have an increased requirement for electrolytes, i.e. horses which will be or have been sweating a lot due to competition or other reasons.

– If a horse is being supplemented with oral electrolytes then water should be freely available at all times.

– Electrolytes cannot be “pre-loaded” into a horses system. This is because the horse’s body has carefully balanced systems to maintain the primary electrolytes in a narrow range. If electrolytes are given when not needed they will be excreted out of the body by these systems. Potentially the earliest to administer electrolytes (1-2 doses; 25-50 grams of Plusvital Electrolyte Plus) is the night before or morning before a hard competition.

– Post intense competition a horse can be supplemented over a 24 hour period with an appropriate quantity of electrolytes for the amount of sweat lost. A guideline would be a quantity of between 4-6 doses (100-150 grams of Plusvital Electrolyte Plus) over this period. Plusvital Electrolyte Plus provides approximately twice the concentrations of the main electrolytes as other products on the market and is also soluble in water and apple flavoured. This means that a smaller dose is required which makes administration easier. Additionally, they can be also dissolved in water and syringed into a horse and are palatable due to the apple flavour.

Learn more about Plusvital’s scientifically-based supplement range here.

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