Anhidrosis: What to Remember

Horses with anhidrosis don’t produce an adequate amount of sweat. Here’s what to know about this condition.

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Anhidrosis: What to Remember
Most commonly diagnosed in performance horses, anhidrosis also affects nonperformance horses and seems to be more prevalent in dark-colored animals. | Photo: iStock
Anhidrosis is a common condition that frequently presents during the long, hot days of summer and is the inability of the horse to produce an adequate amount of sweat.

The decreased ability to maintain proper body temperature limits athletic potential, increases risk for heat stroke, and could compound other disease processes. The cause of anhidrosis is not well defined, but is believed to involve over-stimulation of the horse’s sweat glands by stress hormones, typically occurring in the summer months.

A horse could only have minor decreases in sweat production, resulting in subtle clinical signs, or a total loss of sweat production and severe signs of hyperthermia. Most commonly diagnosed in performance horses, it also affects nonperformance horses and seems to be more prevalent in dark-colored animals. Anhidrosis can be especially problematic in animals with coexisting medical diseases (e.g. metabolic or respiratory conditions) by increasing cortisol levels and respiratory demands.

The most common form seen is incomplete or partial anhidrosis and should be considered if a decline in performance with an increase in ambient temperature during summer months occurs. A complete history and clinical examination following exercise could be adequate to arrive at a diagnosis. Clinical signs of partial anhidrosis include an elevated respiratory rate and increased rectal temperature that requires an extended period of time (greater than 30 minutes) to return to the normal range upon cessation of exercise

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