Electrolytes – How to shop smart!

There are many commercial electrolyte supplements available on the market. Electrolyte supplements are designed to replenish sodium, chloride, potassium, and magnesium lost in sweat as a result of exercise. But how do you know what the right choice is for your horse? In this article we will help you learn more about electrolytes so you can pick the best supplement for your horse.

What are electrolytes?

It is important for every horse owner to understand the importance of electrolytes in their horse’s nutrition. Also known as “body salts”, electrolytes play an important role in maintaining osmotic pressure, fluid balance, acid-base regulation, and nerve and muscle activity.

During exercise, sodium, chloride, and potassium are lost in large quantities, as well as magnesium and calcium to a lesser degree. Loss of these electrolytes can lead to fatigue, muscle weakness, and a decrease in the thirst response leading to dehydration.

Sweat Loss

The amount of sweat a horse loses depends on two things: climatic conditions and the duration and intensity of exercise. Sweat helps cool down a horse by evaporating, which works best when the air is dry. When humidity increases, the sweat doesn’t evaporate as well because the air already has a lot of moisture in it.

Horses exercising at low intensity in cool, moderate conditions (15°C – 20°C) will lose 5 – 7L of sweat per hour, while horses exercising in hot, humid conditions can produce up to 30L of sweat per hour. Horse sweat is “hypertonic” which means a higher concentration of electrolytes exists in sweat than in body fluids. For this reason, horses lose large quantities of electrolytes when they sweat.

Did you know? – Latherin, a surfactant protein present in horse sweat, gives the sweat a lathery or foamy appearance. Its role is to help move sweat water quickly from the skin to the surface of the coat for evaporative cooling.

Electrolyte Supplementation

A well-formulated supplement will provide enough electrolytes in a 60g dose to replace what is lost in 5L of sweat. KelatoLYTE® is a scientifically formulated electrolyte supplement that mimics the composition of horse sweat and contains 94% electrolytes per 60g.

Well-formulated electrolyte supplements should contain: KelatoLYTE
Sodium 20 – 25%
Chloride 43 – 48%
Potassium 10 – 12%
Magnesium 1 – 2%
Glucose <10%

Most electrolyte supplements contain some glucose to improve palatability (electrolytes are salty!) or other bells and whistles such as B vitamins and sodium bicarbonate. The issue with this is that too much of these extra ingredients that aren’t electrolytes can compromise the electrolyte composition of the product. When shopping for supplements, it is important to have a look at the label and select products that contain less than 10% filler, because otherwise you will be spending more on the filler than actual electrolytes.

Don’t forget! Your horse MUST have access to fresh, clean water when supplementing with electrolytes.

What’s next?

If you want to provide your horse the best electrolyte option, visit the KelatoLYTE page, or get in touch on 1800 KELATO or email technical@www.kelato.com.au

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