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Poisoning in Horses

Date Published: 10/26/2009

Poisoning in dogs is fairly common because of all of the things they eat but fortunately poisoning in horses is fairly rare. However, it can occur and today we are going to talk about some of the possible types of poisoning that could occur in your horse. Dr. Cynthia Gaskill from the University of Kentucky indicates the risk of toxicity depends on the horse's age, other diseases, reproductive status, and route of exposure. A potential toxicity you might not be concerned about but should be is the use of herbal supplements. Many owners feed some type of herbal supplement to their horse and unfortunately, these supplements are not regulated by the FDA and could contain anything regardless of what the label indicates. Again, just because the label indicates an herbal product has a certain amount of a certain chemical in it does not mean the label is correct because there are few regulations and no testing is required. Many owners believe because a product is listed as natural it is safe.

Dr. Gaskill wants to remind horse owners that some of the most toxic chemicals on earth are natural. Botulism toxin is one of the most potent toxins in the world and is natural; it can be produced by small dead animals accidentally included in baled hay. Also, some pastures can contain toxic plants and although most horses do not eat these plants, in times of a drought when there are no other plants, toxic plants can become a problem. Toxic plants can be baled up in hay, as can blister beetles. Blister beetles are usually found in alfalfa hay and can cause severe intestinal problems that can lead to death.