STEVE: Dehydration in a horse is a fairly subtle situation, early on. Most people don’t even notice it. But if gone unchecked or unnoticed for a long period of time, it can become a very, very serious situation for the gastrointestinal tract, for their overall health and well-being, and their overall maintenance of their actual health status.

What we see early on is that they haven’t taken enough water, and if this gets to be a chronic problem, what has occurred a lot of times is, you’ll notice that their stool becomes very, very dry and flaky, and it gets to be a bit uncomfortable for them to pass manure, on a regular basis.

If this goes on longer, then we see over time, via their skin, meaning they’re a little bit depressed. If you pick their gum, you can see that their gum is dry and also a little bit tacky, and can change colors — can be a little bit dehydrated.

ALEX: A little dehydrated.

STEVE: Well, it’s not slick and it doesn’t have normal moisture content to it. And eventually, they can become so dehydrated that they sludge and don’t have good circulatory response, and therefore they have quite a big of red cell backup. The capillary beds, basically don’t get good profusion, and they show that they have a muddy color to their gum, and it gets to be more and more of an actual, physical problem overall, to where they become static in their GI tract, and foodstuffs don’t move along and they’ll start showing colic signs.

So there’s a number of things that can occur if a horse becomes chronically dehydrated, or they’re not taking enough water in.

ALEX: And there’s not really one standout thing, like he just said. So it’s important to monitor what your horse is drinking on a daily basis. It’s extremely important.