No Sweat: It's a Problem

Horses, like humans, sweat to cool themselves in warm weather and during periods of exertion. In hot climates, especially humid ones, failure to sweat often means that they are prone to over-heating and cannot be worked. This condition is called anhidrosis.

It is unknown what causes anhidrosis and treatment is difficult. There may be a genetic component to which horses develop anhidrosis, but horses with no history of the condition in their families can also be affected. It can be complicated to diagnose because some horses experience only a reduction in sweating but not a total absence of perspiration.

Left untreated, anhidrosis can sometimes be fatal. However, the condition is usually much less dramatic. Horses with anhidrosis tend to exhibit poor performance because sweating is the normal method of cooling the body. When the body temperature reaches a certain point, it triggers the horse to stop moving so that it can cool down. This can lead to poor performance issues in sport horses.

Because anhidrosis is not a dramatic disease, there has been limited support for research on how to treat it. Grant money has typically gone to research on equine issues that were considered more urgent. However, universities are doing studies to investigate whether acupuncture could help horses with anhidrosis start sweating again.

Forty-four horses were enrolled in the trial, with approximately half receiving a placebo or "sham" treatment. Neither the owners nor the veterinarians administering the treatments knew which group their horses were in. As well as acupuncture, treated horses received Chinese herbal medicine. The placebo group received false acupuncture and hay powder.

The treated horses improved measurably after a month of acupuncture and herbal medicine. However, a significant portion of the placebo group also began sweating again during the trial. The trial horses had all recently become non-sweaters, and anhidrosis is known to spontaneously improve in some cases. The study's authors concluded that more research was required to understand the role of acupuncture in treating equine anhidrosis.

If you have questions about anhidrosis or acupuncture treatments, talk to you veterinarian.

Sources:

Machtinger, Erika T.; Leppla, Norman C.; and Saunders, Cindy. “Pest Management Perceptions and Practices for Equine Farms in North and Central Florida.” University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine

University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine

Sykes, Melissa. “No Sweat.” The Horsemen's Journal

Location

Find us on the map

Office Hours

Ambulatory and hospital emergency service is provided 24 hours a day.

Rhinebeck Equine

Monday:

8:00 am-5:00 pm

Tuesday:

8:00 am-5:00 pm

Wednesday:

8:00 am-5:00 pm

Thursday:

8:00 am-5:00 pm

Friday:

8:00 am-5:00 pm

Saturday:

Closed

Sunday:

Closed

Testimonials

Read What Our Clients Say

  • "Dr. Sotela is fantastic and has always been incredibly kind and patient with my mare, Mira. In May, Mira had to have surgery at the clinic for a soft tissue sequestrum. Dr Gus and the staff were wonderful to deal with."
    Danielle Meenan Heaney
  • "We love Rhinebeck Equine and their vets and staff. They've been our equine vets for about 30 years and we love working with them."
    Thorunn Kristjansdottir
  • "Amazing facility with awesome staff. My friend had a horse who needed surgery and they were awesome the entire time. We hung out in their waiting room. Staff was friendly and talkative, and let us play with their dog. Dr. Gus is a great surgeon!"
    Hanna Gavel