Saturday, June 5, 2010


That's me on my beloved Fawn, swimming in the Atlantic off the Delaware shore. She was the only horse from my stable to swim past the breakers and over her head in the ocean. We took a trailer load of horses twice a year for 20 years, yet even if a horse (like Sonny and Farewell) went often, they would not go further than chest deep!

Water Tips:

It’s a fact: all life needs water.

Pets need to stay hydrated to stay healthy, but how much and when?

A rule of thumb is that dogs, cats and horses must have fresh water available all day, except after strenuous work. Make sure your pet has its heart rate and respiration back to normal after exercise before offering water.

Monitor the normal amount consumed. If the animal is drinking more than usual (or less) he may be unwell (such as diabetes) and his veterinarian should be contacted.

Playing in water – Dogs and horses are often willing to swim, but be aware of dangers such as rough currents, water menaces such as snakes (alligators in Florida) and thick mud. We know a dog that was killed in the creek after a bad storm; she wasn’t aware of the sudden strong current. For horses, thick mud will suck the shoes off, and may cause leg injuries or a fall. In Florida, alligators have been known to eat small dogs!

Dogs & Cats

They drink more when eating dry food over canned.

They like cold water but don’t put ice cubes in the water bowl. (?)

It’s hard to monitor intake if using a pet water fountain.


They can drink from 10-25 gallons a day. According to Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, a horse needs at least a gallon of water per 100 lbs of body weight. For your average horse, this equals 10 gallons a day. Water requirements vary greatly according to the weather and the level of work that the horse is doing. For instance, if your horse is exercising in hot, humid weather, he may need 2-4 times the minimum amount.

At rest, in a stall, offer two buckets, filling them fresh in the morning and evening; more changing/refilling when a hot day.

Outside with turn-out, keep the water trough clean and full. In hot weather, change water when needed so it’s not too warm to drink. During a freeze, make sure no ice forms.

Offer free-choice salt blocks to encourage drinking water.

More Tips from Tufts University:

Getting your horse to drink more

  • The first, and most important thing, is to make sure that your horse has continual access to water!
  • Horses tend to drink less water in the winter if the water is cold. Studies have shown that horses will drink more water if it is warm or tepid. So, get yourself a water heater, and don't expect your horse to drink the icy cold water!
  • Some horses are very picky about 'foreign' water. Tips from experienced competitors include bringing enough water from home, and getting your horse used to drinking flavored water. Many horses enjoy water flavored with apple juice.
  • Horses will drink more when it is held up to them after and during competition.
  • Try to offer your horse water in a quiet area, where he will not be disturbed by all the action around him.
  • One wet-down flake of hay can absorb 1-2 gallons of water. If you feed your horse well-soaked hay, you can make a real impact on his fluid consumption. Endurance riders take advantage of this by feeding horses soaked hay before long rides.

Treating a horse's fluid and electrolyte losses after competition

  • Horses that have done short, extreme bursts of exercise need to be carefully cooled down, and should be given frequent, small sips of water.
  • Horses that have done long, moderate exercise (such as endurance horses), should be allowed to drink water during and immediately after competition.
  • Although electrolyte solutions are not the best way to deliver electrolytes on a daily basis, they are appropriate after competition. As a matter of fact, your horse will be much more likely to drink an electrolyte solution during or after competition, rather than before. However, your horse does need water, not just electrolytes.
  • Horses that are moderately to severely dehydrated need veterinary attention. The attending veterinarian will treat with intravenous fluids and fluids given with a nasogastric tube.

Visit to learn more.