Anhidrosis Protocol Options
Anhidrosis in horses does not have a true, known cause, although there are many speculations on its etiology. Often, the best goal is successful management, typically found through extensive trial and error. Our hopes are that horse owners who have non-sweaters read this information and leave armed with new options that we at BioStar EQ have found to be successful, or at least worth trying.
It is helpful to first understand what normal cues the body has to start sweating. To create sweat, which is defined as the horse’s perspiration response to heat and humidity in order to maintain a normal body temperature via evaporative cooling. While the normally sweating horse is glazed in clear sweat on the outside; his beta-2 receptors are responding to epinephrine on the inside, which contracts the sweat glands.
Perhaps the most logical cause of anhidrosis in horses is a complex combination of neuromuscular and hormonal imbalances. In this case, stress hormones such as epinephrine/adrenaline are elevated. This leads us to believe anhidrosis horses are under some form of constant stress. These stress hormones are normally released in fight/flight events or in the case of other major stress events.
This physiologic stress response causes the adrenal glands, endocrine glands, and neuromuscular system to be overly sensitized to adrenaline. If the receptors that control sweating are “dulled” to the constant presence of these hormones, the receptors cannot respond normally and the horse does not sweat.
Stress is an intense part of anhidrosis! Stress can come from the environment, diet, or coping mechanisms of the horse. A poor reaction to environmental stress caused by extreme heat and humidity is something all anhidrosis horses have in common. The second pivotal component is the horse’s overall stress load; which can affect how he copes with the unchangeable environmental difficulties. For example if the horse is already stressed from shipping, a heavy competition schedule, a commercial processed diet, or chronic discomfort, the body is already in stress-response mode. He is overwhelmed trying to deal with shipping, digestion, pain and the last thing his body can handle: the weather.
We have to backtrack and try to minimize these factors the best we can, and help the horse to have fewer major stressors. You as the horse owner have a lot of power and flexibility in what you can do to help your horse’s body to rebalance. To be successful with this syndrome, the horse must be able to deal with one thing at a time and not maintain constant stress levels. We have to remember that we can change so many aspects of the non-sweating horse’s life and they are not difficult modifications to make. Our goal is to help the horse to be as strong as possible in every organ system and in the rest of his body, so that he can effectively deal with the environmental component, as the main daily stress.
While waiting for his body to re-balance, which will take time, we can use physical cooling techniques. These do not address the root cause but will make the horse much more comfortable. Acupuncture can be successful for some horses and will compliment any therapy you choose. Coolmedics manufactures cooling blankets made to fit like a regular blanket but these provide a unique, long-lasting, cooling mechanism. Your horse could have the benefit of a misting fan system in his stall and only go out at night when the temperature is cool enough and the grass is lower in sugar.
Using physical methods to help bring your horses’ core temperature down will buy him time and make him comfortable. This is your chance, when you as the horse owner can provide stress-relief to help your non-sweater just by modifying his diet. This will not make him start sweating instantly. However, you are taking a huge step towards giving him something much easier to digest. It will take a major burden off of his body, one more burden he does not need. Sometimes addressing anhidrosis in horses is as simple as correcting an electrolyte deficiency. However, while electrolyte supplementation is worth a try, it does not address the whole picture. Electrolytes are addressed in our protocols below as “a part of the whole.” Overall balance of the entire picture is our goal.
There is no doubt that electrolyte abnormalities further complicate other causes of anhidrosis in horses. You can help your horse by providing free choice celtic/gray sea salt, Himalayan salt rocks, or by adding quality sea salt to his normal diet. When shopping for sea salt, look for the most unrefined brand you can find, the grayer the better. You will end up using far less of this type than the more processed types, and your horse will get the most out of it. The gray-ness is from vital trace minerals that balance the salt. The more refined salts are lacking these minerals and are not as beneficial. Plain white salt blocks are heat processed and refined heavily. We do not recommend these, nor do we recommend iodized white salt.
Digesting commercial feeds and synthetic supplements are hard on his body and consume much-needed cellular energy. In a basic sense, avoid feeding warming ingredients. This means no molasses, corn, oats, corn/vegetable/soybean/canola/olive oils. It is critical to feed neutral or cooling ingredients: grass hay or irrigated grass (if your horse is not metabolic), rolled barley, soaked beet pulp, hemp oil, chia seed, and small amounts of alfalfa. One of your most powerful tools are fruit smoothies (see below protocol #3), to help cool his body from the inside out and provide therapeutic, balancing Ayurvedic effects.
note: all protocols are best when added to a whole food diet
- To address the neuro-hormonal and stress piece of anhidrosis, feed Equilibrium EQ at a dosage of 3 bars three times a day until the horse begins sweating.
- In order to support the basic electrolyte needs, feed BioStar’s StarLyte EQ 1 scoop twice a day and provide free choice pink Himalayan salt lick: (www.chamisaridge.com) or (www.kvvet.com).
- A smoothie made of 1 peeled pitted mango, 1 cup watermelon with rind, 2 leafy carrot tops, 1 cucumber, half-bunch of parsley, 1 banana, 2 tsp of good quality sea-salt, and 1 tbsp chia assists in the replacement of electrolytes as well as provides cooling, moistening, Ayurvedic foods. Feed 1/3 cup two to three times per day with feed.
- One AC, a supplement containing Tyrosine, can help some horses start sweating again and can be found at: (www.nonsweater.com).
- If the anhidrosis is being made worse due to a suspected kidney imbalance or gut stress, try True Balance EQ 2-4 bars twice a day combined with StarLyte EQ, 1 scoop twice a day.
- If the anhidirosis is caused by major electrolyte imbalances or your horse is extraordinarily picky, try Equiwinner patches: (http://www.equiwinner.com/equiwinner.htm) with StarLyte EQ, 1 scoop twice a day.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lizzy Meyer lives in Cypress, TX where she works as a holistic and intuitive horse consultant as well as a representative for BioStar EQ. She sees the horse as a “whole” and utilizes a wide variety of tools in her work; including functional foods, herbs, and energy modalities. She highlights owner education and does rehabilitation work with horses. She has a bachelor’s degree in Biology and a degree in Veterinary Technology. With ten years of experience working in the veterinary world and a lifetime of experience with difficult horse cases, Lizzy is available for consultations via phone, email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or in person.