Anhidrosis in horses

A diagnosis of anhidrosis is very unwelcome news, especially for performance horses. Horses with anhidrosis do not sweat in hot weather or during vigorous exercise. Sweating is essential for a horse to cool down its muscles and internal organs. A horse that doesn’t sweat quickly overheats and is at risk of heatstroke. This condition is rare in horses living in temperate climates. In fact, horses that already suffer from anhidrosis will be more comfortable if they are moved north, where prolonged hot and humid weather is less likely.

Anhidrosis is also known as “dry clothes syndrome” or “non-ahidrosis”. In the early stages, it was called “puff sickness” because even after stopping work, horses would pant as they try to calm themselves down. Horses will have little, incoherent or no sweating, a fast pulse, and a higher than normal body temperature while working or when the weather is hot enough that most horses sweat while standing. Recovery after exercise is slow. The horse may also have flaky dandruff and shedding of fur. A thin coat can be an early sign of the condition. In hot, humid weather, horses may appear distressed or lethargic even when they are not working.

What causes anhidrosis?

This occurs most often in places where temperature and humidity remain high for long periods of time. The cause is unknown, and the onset can be very sudden. Horses are more often seen living in tropical or very humid climates, such as the southern states. Horses’ sweat glands are overstimulated, and stress glands can cause them to malfunction. The result is a horse that sweats little or no at all. Occasionally, owners will notice that the horse is not doing well in hot weather, and that its breathing rate has been higher than normal after exercise. Body temperature measured with a rectal thermometer may also be slightly elevated.

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How to control anhidrosis?

In hot, humid weather, keep anhidrotic horses as cool as possible. Use a cool mist, sponge, fan, shade or stable rest to keep your horse as comfortable as possible. If you must exercise your horse, take advantage of cooler morning or evening temperatures. Do not exercise your horse in the heat. Consider moving your horse to a cooler climate. Alternatively, minimize workloads during the hottest weather and schedule shows and events during times of the year that are less likely to be hot. There is some anecdotal evidence that acupuncture may be beneficial.

Supplements to help horses with anhidrosis

As we learn more about the condition and recognize the signs of it, better treatments have been developed. Home remedy is to feed the horse beer. While this may work for some people, it may not be the best strategy over time. Horse owner Jayne Pedigo describes her experience with anhidrosis. A product that Jayne recommends and seems to be using successfully by many owners is The One AC. One AC can be purchased through Horse Solutions. There has also been some success using electrolytes. Besides The One AC, you might want to try True Sweat®, Platinum Refresh® or Equiwinner.

Where to buy antiperspirant supplements:

The suppliers are:

A blood sample analyzed by a veterinarian can help determine the best supplement for your horse.

Remember, no supplement has been proven to be 100% effective for all horses. You may have to try something different while changing your turnout and riding habits. A light riding horse may not be affected much by anhidrosis, but it can be a career end for a horse in competitions such as trial horses or endurance riding.

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If you suspect your pet is sick, call your veterinarian right away. For health-related questions, be sure to consult your veterinarian, as they have examined your pet, know your pet’s health history, and can give your pet the best advice.


Anhidrosis in horses
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