The Importance of Electrolytes in Foals

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Horses and foals depend upon a balance of electrolytes in their body for support of bodily functions. Although most horse/foal lovers know that electrolytes are important, they might not understand why they are vital. Here is a short guide that will help you to better understand the importance of electrolytes in foals.

What is an Electrolyte?

  • Broken down in simplest form, Electrolytes are salts and minerals that conduct electrical impulses in the body.
  • Common electrolytes include Sodium Chloride, Potassium, Calcium, and Sodium Bicarbonate.

Why Are Electrolytes Important in Foals?

  • Electrolytes control the fluid balance of the foal’s body and are important in muscle contraction, energy generation, and almost every major biochemical reaction in the body.
  • When horses sweat they lose large quantities of electrolytes. This often occurs during work, intense training, transport, higher temperatures and humidity, illness and competitions.
  • In order to maintain proper body balances it is critical they have access to fresh water and electrolytes given when needed.

How Can I Ensure My Foal is Getting Enough Electrolytes?

There are several forms of electrolyte supplements available. From paste and gel to powder and nuggets. Mixing into dry food or mixing with their water is an easy way to help the animal maintain the proper level in the body. If your horse is in training or competitions they need additional electrolytes and can be added to their feed daily.

What Should I Do if My Foal Develops Scours?

If your foal develops scours (diarrhea), provide supplemental electrolytes mixed with water and feed separately from milk. The extra fluids are important to help prevent dehydration and restore fluid and electrolyte balance. Electrolytes do not contain nearly enough nutrients to sustain normal body maintenance, much less allow for a strong immune response, so do not discontinue regular milk replacer feedings.

During scouring, it’s best not to use gel or paste electrolyte product. It’s also recommended that you not top-dress electrolytes powder on your foal’s creep feed. Methods of feeding electrolytes should depend on the foal drinking extra water, and this might not occur while feeding gel/paste or top-dressing.

Providing electrolytes in liquid solution, in a bottle or pail, will give you the ability to monitor the foal’s supplemental fluid intake.


Manna Pro Bounce Back - a multi-species electrolyte supplement that's great for foals!

  • For use in times of stress or dehydration
  • Glycine to support electrolyte absorption
  • Great for animals of all ages
  • Formulated for nine species: Calves, Foals, Goat Kids, Llamas, Alpacas, Fawns, Elk Calves, Lambs and Baby Pigs
Cathy Morris

Cathy Morris

Cathy Morris is an expert in Rural Lifestyle living. She has worked for several leading animal health organizations and has a B.S. in Animal Science from the University of Minnesota.


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