Is City Water OK for My Horse?

The question comes up from time to time if municipal water supplies are OK for horses. The concern is generally related to the added chlorine or added fluoride in the water. The water is treated with chlorine to minimize risk of bacterial contamination, and the fluoride is added to improve human dental health.

The chloride may change the aroma and taste of the water. Taking horses to facilities with chlorinated water can sometimes reduce water consumption. Reduced water consumption may impair performance and may also increase the risk of impaction colic. Horses do adjust to the difference in taste and aroma over time, but this may take a few days. It is routine in many barns to flavor the water with something like wintergreen or peppermint at home, then flavor the water at the new location or while traveling to match the home water.

  • NOTE: Do NOT use soft drinks that contain caffeine or any material containing caffeine as these can trigger positive drug tests!

The fluoride levels in municipal water supplies are normally at about 0.5 to 1.0 mg/liter of water. The maximum dietary allowance for horses is about 4-8 mg/liter (Source: Mineral Levels in Animal Health-Diagnostic Data, Second Edition, R. Puls), so the level in municipal water is well below any levels associated with heath risk for horses.

Municipal water should be OK for horses. When changing water sources, consumption should be monitored to make certain horses continue to consume adequate water with flavoring the water being an option when traveling. As always, salt should be available free choice.

3 Replies to “Is City Water OK for My Horse?”

  1. When going to a strange city or ranch with my horse’s I try to take water from home so that I am sure they will drink there fill or what they need! Doing this has keptt my horse from colic or any other problem related to water!
    I want to thank Nutrena for the great feed that they produce! I having been feeding Safe Choice for about 8 years,, now my horse is 27 and I am about to start on Senior Feed! I will need to do some research to see how much to feed her and which one!

  2. What vitimins are necessary for horses drinking city water? Is there a lack of things besides probiotics, because of the chlorine?

    1. Hi Karen,
      Thank you for your interesting question about vitamins or other nutrients required for horses drinking city water that would contain chlorine. The biggest problem with city water is monitoring consumption to make sure the horses drink enough. Horses generally adjust to the smell and taste, but new horses may back off. There can also be some variation in the level of chlorination based on changes in water quality in some regions. This is also a potential problem when traveling and going from well water to city water. Many owners will flavor the water at home so they can hide the taste/smell when going to a show grounds or new facility that has city water. I have not seen any research on increased vitamin requirements due to city water. If you are using a feed that is fortified already with Vitamins A, D and E, I would not expect that you would need to add any additional vitamins when on city water. The chlorine added is quite diluted by the time it reaches the home or barn.

      If you are not using a feed that is fortified already and you are concerned, a good solution might be to use a ration balancer product like Nutrena Empower Topline Balance that is fortified with both vitamins and probiotics.

      Best wishes,
      Roy J.

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