Sweating is the main process by which horses keep their body temperature stable. Horse sweat is hypertonic, indicating that the salt (electrolyte) concentrations of the sweat are higher than in the horse’s body fluids. This is a wonderful definition, but what does it mean for the horse?
- Skin pinch test. Pinch a small piece of the skin in the neck or shoulder area. If it stays elevated more than a few seconds, dehydration is possible.
- Appearance of gums. If the gums look dry or reddened, dehydration is possible.
- Check eyes. Dull and glazed eyes may indicate dehydration.
- Capillary refill. Gently press, with one finger, on an area of the gum above the teeth. The area turns very pale. Release. Normal color should return in 1-4 seconds, if not, dehydration is possible
- You can also check for thick lathered sweat, shallow panting and body temperature over 102 degrees F, which are all signs of dehydration.