Q As the weather has gotten warmer, our chestnut mare, Molasses, has been lethargic, and her coat looks matted. Could this be a sign of anhidrosis? What can we do to help her? R.A., Albany, GA
A As the thermometer rises, it’s time to pay attention not only to your horse’s coat, but also to her ability to sweat properly. An unhealthy or long coat in the summer indicates a problem, as a horse should naturally be losing her winter coat. A dull, matted coat is a common symptom of a hormonal problem called Cushing’s disease, which means the body produces excess steroid hormone. It not only causes discomfort, but it can also lead to other serious problems such as laminitis, or the inflammation of the hoof tissue. A horse that becomes lethargic as the weather warms could also have anhidrosis, a condition in which a horse loses the ability to sweat. For reasons no one really understands, the hormone epinephrine fails to activate the sweat glands, and it can be very dangerous because a horse that can’t sweat won’t be able to cool down in heat or during exercise, leaving her susceptible to heat stroke. The best thing you can do for Molasses is to call in an equine veterinarian who can accurately diagnose the problem and, hopefully, help your horse feel better in no time.
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