Horses primarily cool themselves by sweating. Although horses can “pant” through their nose, this is a much less effective means of dissipating heat.
Prolonged exercise or exposure to hot conditions can result in dehydration, heat exhaustion or heat stroke. This is particularly true in humid conditions, because the humidity inhibits sweat from evaporating off the skin’s surface.
“Exhaustion” or “Stroke”? The difference in terminology is a matter of degree, not kind. Heat exhaustion is characterized by dehydration and overheating that may be reversible with prompt treatment. Heat stroke implies something more severe, and is characterized by total collapse, as a horse is in imminent danger of dying. A normal rectal temperature for horses ranges from 98 – 101 degrees.
Generally, a horse is in danger of developing heat exhaustion or stroke if their rectal temperature rises above 104 degrees. The higher the temperature, the more aggressive the treatment that is needed.
Other Diagnoses Considered
Treatments May Include
Prognosis & Relevant Factors
Guarded to good depending on the severity of the condition, and the horse's response to treatment.
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