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Thirst Quencher: Unlocking the Secret to Rehydrating Reluctant Performance Horses

Intravenous (IV) alkaline hypertonic saline infusion is a veterinary medical procedure used to maintain fluid and electrolyte balance in horses. This technique has gained popularity due to its effectiveness in treating various conditions that can cause imbalances in these vital parameters. In this blog, we will explore the benefits, applications, and considerations associated with IV alkaline hypertonic saline infusion in horses.

Understanding Fluid and Electrolyte Balance in Horses:

Fluid and electrolyte balance is crucial for the proper functioning of a horse's body. Maintaining the right levels of fluids and electrolytes ensures optimal physiological processes, including cellular function, nerve transmission, muscle contraction, and maintenance of pH balance. Horses can experience imbalances due to factors such as dehydration, gastrointestinal disorders, strenuous exercise, heat stress, or certain medical conditions. These imbalances can lead to serious complications if not addressed promptly.

The Role of IV Alkaline Hypertonic Saline Infusion:

IV alkaline hypertonic saline infusion involves the administration of a solution containing alkaline substances, such as sodium citrate, combined with hypertonic saline. This combination provides several advantages when it comes to restoring and maintaining fluid and electrolyte balance in horses.

  1. Rapid Rehydration: The hypertonic saline solution promotes the movement of water from the interstitial space into the blood vessels, effectively rehydrating the horse more rapidly than isotonic solutions. This is particularly beneficial in cases of severe dehydration or fluid loss.

  2. Electrolyte Replacement: Alkaline hypertonic saline infusion provides not only fluid replacement but also helps restore electrolyte levels. The solution typically contains essential electrolytes such as sodium, chloride, and citrate, which are crucial for maintaining proper cellular function and acid-base balance.

  3. pH Regulation: The alkaline properties of the infusion can help correct acid-base imbalances that may occur in conditions such as metabolic acidosis. The bicarbonate ions in the solution act as buffers, helping to stabilize pH levels in the horse's body.

Applications of IV Alkaline Hypertonic Saline Infusion in Horses:

  1. Dehydration: IV alkaline hypertonic saline infusion is highly effective in treating severe dehydration resulting from conditions such as prolonged diarrhea, excessive sweating, or inadequate water intake. By rapidly replenishing fluid levels, it helps restore the horse's overall well-being.

  2. Exercise-Induced Hyponatremia: Endurance horses or those engaged in prolonged exercise can experience hyponatremia, a condition characterized by low blood sodium levels. IV alkaline hypertonic saline infusion helps correct this electrolyte imbalance, ensuring proper neuromuscular function and preventing complications associated with hyponatremia.

  3. Gastrointestinal Disorders: Horses suffering from gastrointestinal disorders like colic or diarrhea may experience fluid and electrolyte imbalances. IV alkaline hypertonic saline infusion can help restore these imbalances, providing supportive care alongside appropriate treatment for the underlying condition.

Considerations and Precautions:

While IV alkaline hypertonic saline infusion offers numerous benefits, it is important to approach this procedure with caution and under veterinary supervision.

  1. Proper Dosage: Accurate calculation of the infusion rate and dosage is crucial to avoid potential complications. Dosage and infusion rates should be determined by a veterinarian based on the horse's individual needs and condition.

  2. Monitoring: Continuous monitoring of the horse's vital signs, electrolyte levels, and fluid balance is necessary during and after the infusion to ensure a safe and successful outcome.

  3. Individual Variations: Each horse is unique, and their response to the infusion may vary. Veterinarians must assess the horse's condition, overall health, and any pre-existing medical conditions to determine the suitability and dosage of the infusion.


Intravenous alkaline hypertonic saline infusion is a valuable tool in maintaining fluid and electrolyte balance in horses. Its ability to rapidly rehydrate, replenish electrolytes, and regulate pH levels make it a valuable treatment option for conditions such as dehydration, exercise-induced hyponatremia, and gastrointestinal disorders. However, it is important to exercise caution and rely on veterinary expertise to ensure the proper administration and monitoring of this procedure. By utilizing this technique alongside comprehensive veterinary care, we can enhance the health and well-being of our equine companions.

A great quencher 38 grams of sodium chloride and 38 grams of sodium citrate in 500 ml of sterile water for injection:

  • Rapid rehydration effects, particularly useful following long distance transport or heavy exercise.

  • Initiates the thirst reflex in horses which are unwilling to drink.

  • Restores cellular efficiency and body salts to ensure optimal athletic performance.

  • Alters the blood profile from one of hypotonic contraction to hypertonic expansion; a gain of salts in excess of water.

  • Ideal for rapid restoration of body fluid reserves.

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