The Importance Of Selenium For Horses: Definition, Benefits, And Guides

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Many horse owners are curious about selenium, one of the most popular horse’s supplements. This nutrient is actually important for your horses, but it should be given in the right portion, or it will end up harming the horse. So what is actually selenium for the horse? What is the importance of it? What is the benefit of selenium for horses?


Selenium for Horses

selenium for horses
Credit: The Feed Room

The Definition of Selenium

Selenium works as the antioxidant in the horses’ body.  This is an essential trace mineral to guard the body’s cell membranes from free radicals. It works together with vitamin E, creating a good free radicals protection.

Other functions of selenium for horses are producing the thyroxine (thyroid hormone) which influences the growth of the horse, protecting the muscle tissues, protecting some viral infections, and improving reproduction system.

Selenium can be found in plants, groundwater, and soils. The soil that contains selenium is varied, depend on its moisture condition. The drought area where the roots dig deeper into the soil to find water, you can find more selenium.

The Importance of Selenium

As stated before, the most important function of selenium is as antioxidant. The oxidation is a metabolic activity which converts proteins, fats, carbohydrates to the energy needed for the body. Sometimes, this process doesn’t exactly identify which element should be converted to the energy and which for structural.

The balance of the process is important, or it will cause free radicals that can harm proteins and DNA. That is why antioxidant is important, to defend the harm caused by free radical. Selenium and vitamin E are necessary for antioxidant nutrients for the horses and should be given in the right amounts.

The deficiency of selenium is indicated by clinical symptoms or sub-clinical. Some physical problems may happen in clinical signs, where sub-clinical deficiencies don’t show obvious problems. You may find the poor immunity, poor fertility, poor muscle healing and other problems you hardly to examine. Some common indications of selenium deficiency are diarrhea, anorexia, retained placenta, abortion, the difficulty of swallowing or sucking, impaired heart function, respiratory distress, and muscle weakness (myopathy).

Selenium toxicity is the worse selenium issue. It is the condition when the horse has overload selenium level that can cause the alkali disease. The indications are diarrhea, colic, patchy sweating, rapid heart rate, blind staggers, and the chronic level can show hair loss, and hooves cracking, turning to soft and easily chip. It happens because selenium overload can change the keratin’s structure which is the protein of hair and hoof tissue. Chronic toxicity can even cause death.

Selenium Levels for Horses

Since it can cause several health problems when the horse has the lack or over selenium level, it is important to determine the right amount of selenium for horses. Some areas with high selenium content in its soil can cause chronic selenium toxicity. To make sure about this circumstance, you can ask the farmers, area owners, or local extension office.

An adult horse only needs 1 to 3 mg of selenium per day. The maximum level of selenium that a horse can handle is not more than 15 to 20 mg per day. If the horse consumes more than 50 mg a day, it can cause selenium toxicity. Another measurement is by calculating the horse’s weight and his diet, for example, a 1000 pound horse that eats 10 kg of grain and forage needs 1 mg of selenium daily.

As for the performance horse, you can increase the amount of selenium intake, because the more horse involves in exercises, he performs more oxidation process. The athletic horse needs 2.5 to 3.5 mg of selenium intake per day by considering the exercise intensity, weight, and environment circumstances.  Horses under stress of traveling, breeding, foaling, or affected by diseases need 3 mg of selenium per day.

Selenium Supplement for Horses

There are numbers of commercial vitamin or mineral supplements available in the market. You need to give selenium supplements when your horse only eats a small amount of supplemental complete feeds.  You can also ask a veterinarian whether the horse need additional selenium supplement or not.

The best recommendation of selenium supplement for horses is the one which is yeast-based because it is more organic. Always read the label to examine how much selenium is contained in the supplement since the products have various amounts of selenium.

Selenium for horses holds an important role in maintaining the health of the horse. Though the horse only needs the small amount of it, but the adequate amounts of selenium that works together with vitamin E will give optimal health and wellbeing of horses.