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  • Q:

    My two-year-old Standardbred racing filly is 15.2 hands (157 cm) and weighs 975 lb (445 kg). At this weight, she’s in moderate body condition. Right now, she’s on 12 hours of turnout daily. Her current ration includes 40% whole oats, 20% steamed rolled barley, 20% coarse-cracked corn, 20% balancer pellet, 2 oz of a vitamin and mineral supplement, 8 oz coconut-soy oil, 5 lb (2.3 kg) chopped alfalfa, and free-choice timothy hay. Last year when I took her to Florida to train, she had allergy issues and fits of anhidrosis, which precluded her from racing. This summer, she seemed to sweat normally with no allergies. Could her allergy medications induce the sweating problem? Maybe it’s her diet?

  • A:

    It is common for environmental conditions, especially high temperatures and humidity, to cause heat stress, ultimately leading to the development of anhidrosis, or the inability to sweat normally.

    Electrolyte therapy is a must for performance horses. If your mare stays on her current feeding program in Florida, I recommend adding a daily electrolyte product, like Restore SR. Race Recovery would be appropriate if she will be racing on furosemide (Lasix or Salix). Restore SR provides both immediate and slow-release forms of sodium for sustained absorption in addition to potassium, chloride, and magnesium. Race Recovery is formulated based on the research findings of several Kentucky Equine Research (KER) studies that investigated the effects of furosemide administration on mineral balance in exercising horses. Daily supplementation of Race Recovery and its five-day post-race program provides the essential components to replenish lost minerals due to furosemide administration and exercise.

    In addition to electrolyte therapy, there is evidence that supplemental vitamin E can be effective in some anhidrotic horses. Nano•E is a highly bioavailable source of vitamin E, containing natural, water-soluble vitamin E in an easy-to-dose liquid form. KER also offers Preserve PS, a comprehensive antioxidant supplement containing natural vitamin E plus selenium, magnesium, and vitamin C.

    To help manage the filly’s allergies, daily supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids can help strengthen her immune system and reduce the severity of the allergic reaction. The long-chain fatty acids DHA and EPA found in fish oil have greater anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties compared to short-chain fatty acids from plant-based sources, like flax.

    Fish oil provides an immediate source of fatty acids that do not require conversion, unlike plant-derived sources. There is evidence to support supplementation with flax can minimize allergic reactions caused by insect bites. Supplementation of at least 6 oz of flax plus 1-2 oz of fish oil, such as EO•3, will provide all the omega-3s necessary to support optimal health and nutritional management of allergies. An added benefit of fish oil supplementation is the protective effect on joint health through counteracting the damaging effects of exercise-induced inflammation.

    Management strategies for horses with or at risk of developing anhidrosis include providing access to shade during daylight hours; keeping cool air circulating when stalled through the use of fans or misting fans; working horses during cooler temperatures; and promoting efficient cooling after exercise.

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