Severe Dehydration (Book Excerpt)
Dehydration can be a significant problem for the performance horse as well as for horses suffering from other disease processes. If you suspect dehydration, you can check easily your horse’s hydration status if you have used one or more of the following methods to establish a base line before the event. Although the tests are somewhat subjective, they can be valuable.
The most common test performed is the so-called “skin-tent test.” It is based on the premise that as the skin becomes dehydrated it loses its elasticity. In a dehydrated horse, if the skin is pulled up, or tented, it will snap back to the pre-pinch position more slowly than it normally does. It should be performed in an area that has some degree of consistent tension such as the point of the shoulder.
Generally, the skin should snap back to normal in a few seconds. One note: older horses tend to lose the natural elasticity to the skin and it can take longer for their skin to return to place. If you know what is normal for your horse, and perform the test consistently, it can be a useful test of hydration status.
In addition to the skin-tent test, it is desirable to note the degree of moistness of the mucous membranes of the mouth. Dry or tacky mucous membranes are also an indication of
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