Acupressure for Anhidrosis in Horses
Thankfully, I’ve never had to deal with anhidrosis in any of my horses, but I know a few people who have. Anhidrosis is a condition in which the horse fails to sweat normally and may even be incapable of sweating at all. It can be very dangerous because the horse’s core body temperature will rise with exercise or hot weather and the horse cannot cool itself off by sweating. Respiration and heart rates will stay elevated as the horse’s body attempts to rid itself of the heat through the lungs. Severe cases can result in hyperthermia, heat stroke, and/or death.
Vets aren’t exactly sure what causes anhidrosis in horses, but the condition appears to be linked with hormonal or metabolic imbalances. It’s been estimated that up to 25% of horses in hot climates have been affected by anhidrosis at some point in their lives and it also seems to be more prevalent in thoroughbreds–although it can occur with any breed.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, anhidrosis is described as a Yin deficiency condition caused by pathogenic Heat (heat invading the body) which damages Chi (Qi) and consumes body fluid. This would explain why it occurs more often in hot climates. Acupuncture and acupressure have often been successful in treating anhidrosis when other treatments have failed.
These management practices are advised for horses with anhidrosis:
- Moving horse to a cooler climate, if possible;
- Hosing horse with cool water after exercise or during hot weather;
- Limiting training to coolest part of the day;
- Installing fans or misters in stalls; and
- Providing shade in pasture.
Here are some treatments that have been shown to help some horses with anhidrosis return to normal sweat patterns:
- Electrolyte supplementation;
- Thyroid treatments (should be done under vet supervision);
- Supplementation of cobalt proteinate, L-tyrosine, and vitamins B1 and C (One AC); and
- Acupuncture and/or acupressure.
I would highly recommend finding a veterinary acupuncturist or certified acupressure practitioner to treat your horse, but if you cannot find one and would like to try using some acu-points yourself, here are some points that are typically used for conditions such as anhidrosis in horses:
Click on photo to enlarge
To learn more about acupressure technique, see this page.
Locations of Acu-Points
Bladder 12: Just above the highest point of the scapula (technically the scapular cartilage which is found above the scapula).
Bladder 13: About 1 hand-width from the spine, just behind the scapula.
Bai Hui: Along spine, between the last lumbar and first sacral vertebrae; Felt as a ‘squishy’ spot.
Heart 7: Located in a ‘dip’ on back part of the outer leg, just above the ‘knee’.
Small Intestine 3: In a depression near the lower border of the outer cannon bone, above the fetlock, and over the outer palmar vein (which can often be felt).
Lung 7: Located just in front of the cephalic vein (large vein which can be felt on the inner leg), at the same level with the bottom of the chestnut.
Large Intestine 4: Found in a ‘dip’ just below the inner part of the ‘knee’ and at just below the head of the splint bone.
Veterinary Acupuncture (book) by Allen. Schoen