Treatments for anhidrosis (non-sweating) in horses
Unfortunately, conventional veterinary medicine does not yet have a successful treatment protocol for anhidrosis. Since the pathophysiology of anhidrosis is still not completely understood, the treatment results are based on field testing and observation rather than on scientific fact. These treatments have been reported to have varying degrees of success:
- Electrolyte supplementation — look for one that contains as little chloride as possible; also avoid added sugars
- One A-C — this supplement is specifically formulated for non-sweaters; success rate between 30% – 80%; start feeding before extremely hot weather begins
- Dark Beer — contains B vitamins and antioxidants; alcohol causes the blood vessels to dilate on the skin surface; pour one bottle/can over ‘grain’ for six days
- Thyroid supplementation — be very careful as this option can have the negative side effect of over-heating; not recommended without veterinary supervision
Consult your veterinarian to determine the best course of action for your horse’s particular situation. Ask for specific directions and dosing when using any of the above treatments. For a holistic approach, you can try acupuncture administered by a veterinarian. For more information on anhidrosis acupuncture, please see alternate blog post.
Maintaining proper hydration and electrolyte balance is critical to optimum health. Horses suffering from anhidrosis need to have access to fresh water at all times. Nutrition may also help by switching to a higher fat diet. Metabolizing starch creates more heat than digesting fat, so replacing part of the feed ration with a fat source like rice bran could provide some relief. Caretakers should implement good management strategies such as:
- Ride during the coolest part of the day
- Reduce the intensity of training
- Sponge bathe or spray an ice water/alcohol mix to help with cooling after exercise
- Hose with cold water frequently (make sure to scrape off excess water)
- Use fans and/or misters in stalls and shelters
- Provide shade in pasture
- Move the horse to a cooler, drier climate
Although severe anhidrosis is rarely seen in most of the country, being alert to any negative changes in your horse’s daily condition may help you diagnose anhidrosis early on. This may limit any adverse effects to performance and overall wellbeing.