Your Sick Horse Might Need Fluids. Here’s Why

Enteral and/or intravenous fluid administration can be a crucial part of supporting sick foals and horses.

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You’ll listen when your doctor instructs you to drink plenty of fluids when you’re under the weather, but it’s decidedly more difficult to tell a horse to drink when he’s ill. As such, fluid administration can be crucial to supporting sick foals or horses.

Fluid administration helps expand the horse’s blood volume so the heart can effectively pump and send blood to the vessels (maintaining cardiovascular function). This, in turn, helps the organs (such as the lungs, liver, bowel, muscle, skin, etc.) receive fluid, electrolytes, glucose, and albumin (a protein). Fluid therapy can also help correct and reduce dehydration.

Veterinarians can administer fluids enterally or intravenously. Enteral means the veterinarian places fluids into the gastrointestinal system via a nasogastric tube. Intravenous administration—administering fluids directly into the circulatory system—involves placing a catheter into a vein such as the jugular in the neck.

The veterinarian must decide how much fluid to deliver to your horse or foal; how quickly or slowly it should be delivered; and what fluid(s) should be used

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