How Much Water Does a Horse Drink a Day

As many horse owners and veterinarians know, horses will only do what they have a mind to do so like the old saying goes “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink” carries a lot of weight, especially during the dog days of summer because when it comes to staying hydrated horses are much like people. How much water does a horse drink a day?

At rest, an average 1,000 lb. horse will consume 5-10 gallons of fresh water per/day. Up to 8-15 gallons per/day depending on the horse’s diet, exercise, & season’s temperature because just like humans, horses need different amounts of H2O intake to stay healthy & hydrated in both hot & cold months.

Water makes up an incredible 65% of your horse’s body and is essential for life. When a horse does not have access to water, it will quickly start to become dehydrated. A majority of the human body consists of water. The percentage varies with age, sex, and body type but is usually around the same as a horse or 60-70%.


How Long Can a Horse Go Without Water


Can Horses Drink Gatorade? - The Ultimate Guide - Pets GalWater is one of the most essential nutrients for life, and without it, a horse just like a human will die without it. After 48 hours without water, a horse may start to develop health problems. The importance of this depends on the horse and its individual circumstances.

A horse that can gain important sources of hydration by consuming lush grass is able to survive for long without water than one which eats a diet of dried hay. For example, grass contains 83% water, but hay contains less than 18% water. A horse fed entirely on hay will drink much more water than one out on the grass.

There are six nutrients in a horse’s diet: carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals, and water. Each of those is considered essential, yet water is king of the hill. “A horse can live for almost a month without food, but within a mere 48 hours without water a horse can begin to show signs of colic and can quickly develop an impaction, lethargy, and life-threatening sequelae. A horse can only survive about five days without water,” shares Peter Huntington, B.V.Sc., M.A.C.V.Sc., director of nutrition at Kentucky Equine Research (Australia).

Normally most Horses drink between 5 and 15 gallons of water in a 24-hour period. The individually stabled horse is usually easy to monitor for water intake if you are filling five-gallon buckets two or three times a day. At rest, an average 1,000 lb. horse will consume 8-10 gallons of water per/day.


Can Horses Drink Water From a River


Horses are pretty good at detecting when H2O sources are not safe, but then again it’s not always the case so it is important to know some basic characteristics of poor water quality. Water quality can be affected by the number of compounds in the water including excess minerals, such as sulfur or iron, any noxious agents such as pesticides, or pathogenic bacteria.

Water can be tested easily for total dissolved solids, pH, individual minerals, and other compounds. Regular consumption from the same or similar source will help animals get used to dirty water and develop a sort of resistance against certain bacteria in it. Over time, a horse’s immune system adapts and builds endurance to whatever contaminants it contains,


Homemade Electrolytes for Horses


A dehydrated horse will act lethargic and depressed, and its eyes will appear sunken and dull. The inside of the mouth will be dry, and any saliva will be thick and gelatinous. If a horse is dehydrated the flanks will be tucked up and he will pass very little urine or feces. When dehydrated, the horse may also show signs of fatigue and may start to tremble. 

Electrolytes and salt blocks horses will stimulate their thirst. Electrolytes can be given in different ways: mixing with water and using a syringe to dose directly into the mouth; stirring electrolytes into feed, or dissolving electrolytes in water. All horses prefer colder water to drink. 

If your horse still won’t drink then Flavor the water with sports drinks like Gatorade, peppermint oil, or apple juice to get your horse interested in unusual water. Try this at home first to make sure you have a flavor your horse likes.



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JimGalloway Author/Editor



Kentucky Equine Research-Hydration and Water Management

Best Horse Rider-How Long Can Horses Go Without Water?




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