An ounce of prevention is worth thousands in Vet bills

...and on the eighth day God created the horse in perfect image, to romp, graze, gallop, play and make manure wherever it darn well pleases, in divine grace.

A reminder that fleas and ticks become active in the summer, so use a 30-day treatment from the Vet, like Advantage, applied at the back of the neck, to keep dogs and barn cats free from tormenting fleas.

Yes, it is expensive, but you know what I always say,- -if you have money for beer and cigarettes, then you should have money for flea control.

You know you don’t like annoying insects biting you; imagine your animals, who can’t escape biting fleas.

Fleas are a part of the tape worm cycle, so do your feline and canine friends a favor and buy them some Advantage today.

Riding onward through the fields in a muddy summer, we’ll discuss poisons this week: they are classified as any substance detrimental or harmful to the body. Horses are susceptible to poisons in many forms and will readily consume them if given the chance to do so.

Poisons in the form of animal baits are pleasing to the taste and horses will eat them, thus making them candidates for intentional poisoning. Improperly cured hay and rotten grain can cause poisoning and this latter cause by accident is the most common and not the former.

There are potentially poisonous plants found in pastures and fields, contact your Vet or Farm Extension Agent for which are prevalent in your area.

Drug overdose is classified as poisoning and may cause the death of the animal. Sometimes the horse will enter anaphylactic shock when given drugs by injection, indicating a severe allergy.

Below are listed various reasons horses could be suffering from poisoning, along with symptoms.

The first is animal baits. Animal baits are used to control rats in stables, along with coyotes or other predators running on farms. These baits contain arsenic, strychnine, metaldehyde and phosphorus.

These poisons are not being used as frequently because of the loss of livestock, concerns about the environment and also risk to children and pets.

Some of the symptoms of poisoning by animal bait are weakness, tremors, incoordination, seizure, coma, hyperexcitability, subdued breathing and circulatory collapse. (1)

Strychnine: Available commercially, signs occur less than 2 hours after ingestion. The first symptoms are excitability, apprehension and agitation, followed by extremely painful convulsions and rigid extension of the legs. The horse is unable to breathe and will arch its neck.

Any slight stimulation, such as loud noise or touching the horse, will trigger a convulsion.

Convulsions caused by poisons are associated with prolonged oxygen deprivation and there is a potential for brain damage. Seizures should be controlled with intravenous Robaxin, Valium, phenobarbitol or pentobarbital.

Sometimes a Horseman may mistake Strychnine poisoning for epilepsy. In comparison, epileptic seizures are short, rarely lasting more that a minute, and are followed by a quiet time in which the horse is dazed but otherwise normal. (2)

Seizures caused by poisoning are non-stop or keep recurring within minutes. In between, the horse is sweaty and agitated, exhibiting weakness, colic, tremors, diarrhea and incoordination

Call the Vet.

Metaldehyde: is commonly used in snail, slug or rat baits and is often combined with arsenic. It tastes and looks like dog food. Symptoms are slobbering, drooling, tremors, excitability, weakness and uncoordinated gait, all of which progress in a matter hours to recumbency, followed by death by respiratory failure.

Anticoagulant Rodenticides: Mice and rat baits containing dicumarol compounds block synthesis of Vitamin K in the body. Vitamin K is necessary for blood clotting, deficiencies result in spontaneous bleeding from the nose, hemorrhages beneath the skin and gums or passage of blood in urine or manure.

There are no signs of poisoning in the horse until these symptoms of spontaneous bleeding occur.

Using Butazolidin at this time potentiates the bleeding. (3)

First generation anticoagulants such as Pindone and Warfarin require repeated consumption before hemorrhaging will occur. The newer second-generation anticoagulants of brodifacoum and bromadiolone classes only require a single dose.

Warfarin is the drug used to treat Navicular Disease and jugular thrombophlebitis and an overdose of this drug has the same effect as accidental consumption of rat poison.

Dicumerol poisoning is a closely related condition. Dicumerol is found in sweet clover (hay) ruined by mold.

The lesson here is to cure your hay properly, even avoid all clover hay entirely. An ounce of prevention ...

Other poison baits are Sodium Fluoroacetate (Compound 1080) and Zinc Phosphide. Keep rat baits in areas where horses or barn cats cannot reach them if you are eradicating rodents, such as under a box with a hole cut into it.

Other poisonings can occur from consumption of cattle feeds. Commercial cattle feeds contain Rumensin (monensin sodium) which is a liposaccharide antibiotic used to control coccidiosis and increase feed efficiency.

Rumensin is highly toxic to the horse and causes severe heart failure and death. Symptoms are similar to those of acute selenium poisoning. Death may occur in 12 hours after initial consumption.

Urea is also contained in cattle feeds and can be toxic to the horse in high levels.

Lead poisoning, though uncommon, can occur with prolonged low-level ingestion. Pastures close to industrial smelting or located next to busy highways where grass is covered with exhaust fumes may be at risk.

A horse with chronic lead poisoning is emaciated, colicky and has anemia. Diagnosis is confirmed when whole blood lead concentration shows levels of 0.03ppm or greater. Poor prognosis in cases showing levels of 1.0ppm. (4)

Poisoning from wood preservatives is a possibility if the horse licks or chews wood on a fence or in a stall. Chemicals used to prevent wood rot or insect infestation contain pentachlorphenol (PCP) and creosote.

Stagnant water troughs heavy with blue-green algae contain toxins that are poisonous to horses. Sanitary water contains no coliform bacteria. The presence of E. Coli goes along with other infectious organisms such as giardia and salmonella.

You don’t want those nasty buggers knocking on your stable door; keep water troughs scrubbed and cleaned frequently. Your buddy deserves fresh clean water anyway.

Using common sense around the barn can help prevent your horse from being poisoned.

The above article is meant as a guideline and not Veterinary analysis. Always consult a qualified Vet should you suspect your horse may be suffering symptoms of poisoning.

Until next time, enjoy the wonderful green of Summer, despite the rain and mud. It flies by like a beautiful field, just a glimpse out your pickup truck window.

This is a good time of the year for a trail ride. The immortal words of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans are a harbinger of warmer days to come, “Happy Trails to You.”

(1-4) Horse Owner’s Veterinary Handbook by Drs. Giffin and Gore