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October 31, 2011

Electrolyte deficiencies in horses – analyzing Horse Hair Analysis™

by DePaolo Equine Concepts

FROM THE DESK OF MARK DEPAOLO, DVM:

WHAT MINERALS ARE CONSIDERED ELECTROLYTES?

Electrolytes consist of Calcium (Ca), Magnesium (Mg), Sodium (Na) and Potassium (K). Electrolytes are integral in the maintenance of hydration, muscle contraction, nerve conduction as well as the acid/base balance of the blood.

Common causes of electrolyte deficiency are:

  • Dehydration
  • Strenuous excercise
  • Sweating
  • Diarrhea
  • Diuretics (Lassix)
  • Insufficient consumption of bio-available minerals
  • Starvation

Very few horses when tested via Horse Hair Analysis™ have completely normal electrolyte levels.  In most cases, I am seeing one or more of these minerals are deficient in horses that are having health issues.

Signs that your horse may have an electrolyte deficiency:

  • Tying up
  • Ulcers
  • Nervousness
  • Aggression
  • Weight Loss
  • Lethargy
  • Allergies

WHAT ARE THE ‘FOUR LOWS’?

Four lows is a term used to identify the worst of the electrolyte imbalances that we see in horses.  This syndrome is where all the electrolytes (Ca, Mg, Na & K) are tested and show up below the level considered to be normal.  Horses with this condition may be chronically lethargic and have decreased performance.

I am also noticing a majority of horses with Endocrine issues show up with Four Lows with HHA. This includes horses with Cushings, Insulin Resistance and breeding problems.

Common side effects include (but are not limited to) mal-absorption of supplements, poor digestion and food allergy problems.  The best way to treat this condition is to supplement the horse with a good quality, long term source of electrolytes along with the mineral zinc.

HOW TO RAISE ‘FOUR LOWS’?

Because a horse is using up electrolytes daily it is doubly hard to get the levels to come up, so it is necessary to supplement some horses for a prolonged period of time to regain optimum health with a safe, long term electrolyte source.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Unfortunately, the cheapest sources of calcium, potassium and sodium are in chloride form.  Because of the relative low cost of these raw materials they are used in almost all electrolyte products on the market today.   These products should never be fed to a horse for longer than 30 days.  Longer than that and they can lead to ulcers and acidosis of the G.I. tract.  I prefer other forms of these minerals for long term use.

A BETTER OPTION

We use the highest quality source of electrolytes in the HHA Personal Supplement™.  Only bio-available ingredients are included to achieve optimum health.  Horses that have been on the HHA Personal Supplement™ have shown dramatic improvement over the course of one year.  Horse Hair Analysis® is an emerging practice that allows greater insight into unsolved equine health and nutritional problems.

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