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AskHQ: Heart health 101

Q: Can diet improve heart health?

A: While your horse’s diet doesn’t affect his heart in the same way as a human’s diet affects their heart, it is still important to remember that a horse does need essential vitamins and minerals for his heart to function optimally. The heart is essentially a muscle, and vitamins and minerals like vitamin E and selenium are important to maintain muscle health. In general, your horse can get these important substances from his grazing, but if there is any concern about the levels, it may be worth considering a balancer, or a vitamin and mineral supplement. It is best, however, to discuss selenium and vitamin E levels with your vet first, as selenium in particular can easily reach toxic levels in your horse if over-supplemented.

Another thing to consider when it comes to heart health is the level of salt in the body. For a horse working hard and losing salt in sweat while exercising, it is important to supplement the lost salt after work. Disruptions in electrolyte (salt) levels can disrupt the electrical activity of the heart. It is therefore worth supplementing the electrolytes in horses who work hard and sweat with a tailored electrolyte supplement, or simply a salt lick.