Watch horses for hypothermia when temperatures drop

This week's extreme weather changes could be dangerous for horses. Take steps to avoid hypothermia and other cold-weather issues.

Posted at 10 a.m. on January 29, 2013.

In the next 48 hours Michigan will see record high temperatures, rain, and then a dramatic decrease in temperatures. This will result in the potential for wet horses and other outdoor animals to experience increased energy demand, and the potential for hypothermia. The threat is especially greater for animals with body condition scores of 2.5-3.5, and those consuming poor quality hay.

Michigan State University Extension recommends following these steps to keep animals safe:

  • Be sure hair coats are dry.
  • If horses are wearing blankets, make sure they aren't soaked.
  • If the animals body condition score 2.5-3.5, consider taking them indoors. If you are not sure on body condition score, if you can see ribs or they are very easily felt under the hair, this animal is potentially at risk.

Hypothermia may result in decreased appetite and water consumption, which may in turn cause impaction colic.  For more information on Equine Body Condition Scoring, visit the learning lesson at

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