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tuis mum
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 Posted: Sat Mar 7th, 2009 09:14 am
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I have been recently informed garlic is toxic to horse could it be explained why and why it is sold and encouraged to be fed. Is this a substance that has been used in treatment for specific conditions and the myth of it doing good for horses gone overboard????? i have always been aware to much garlic is bad but a little does good?? Confused. I use galic and woormwood to worm my horses between the nasty chemical drenches from the vets to try and limit how many they recieve in a year am i doing more halm than good???

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sat Mar 7th, 2009 09:40 pm
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Tui's Mom: Yes, yes, and yes. Yes Garlic is definitely toxic, and recent studies have shown that it is dangerous to feed it to horses, even in the amounts recommended by the sellers. Plus it has nearly zero effect against flies. "Testimonials" by purchasers are heavily relied upon by the sellers of herbs; but testimonials are given by people who are living with hope. What you need is a scientific study and these are what have shown close to zero effectiveness.

Yes, there are LOTS of "herbal" remedies that are either toxic, or else a waste of money -- for example, flax seed is now being pushed but raw flaxseed is also highly toxic and should never be fed to horses. And there are additives in many "herbals" that are toxic, and since in most countries "herbal supplements" are not scrutinized by the government anything like as closely as are the substances that are called "drugs", you can get ANYTHING in those tablets in the way of impurities. And there have been many cases of poisoning from this cause. Why don't you purchase a copy of our "Poison Plants in the Pasture" and educate yourself thoroughly on this subject, if indeed you care about your horses? So you see I am selling something, too. Whom can you believe? You will have to decide.

What I am telling you is that just because something is sold does not make it good or safe. And Yes, wormwood is extremely toxic and an hallucinogen besides. The "chemical drenches" from your veterinarian are, if used correctly, far less likely to do harm to your horse, and at the same time, much more effective against the internal parasites you are trying to eliminate. I would not have upon my farm anyone who tried to "worm" with any herbal, i.e. tobacco or wormwood or whatnot, because then it will be YOUR horse that is guilty of harboring worms and then passing them to MY horse. Again, just because something is "herbal" does not make it good. There is no such thing on any farm, at any time, as natural. If it is manufactured, concentrated, purified, extracted, or anything else, it is not natural. And the farm environment itself is not natural; that's why we need wormers in the first place.

And, further, "natural" is not a synonym of "better" -- which is what you have fallen into believing.

What you need is to get away from relying on what other people tell you, my dear. Because the seller of so-called "natural" remedies has just as big a vested interest in seeing you purchase his products, as does the company that produces what are called "chemicals". So you need to get rational here and realize that everything that happens to your horse, happens because YOU have decided that it shall. You cannot leave it up to being "natural", because doing that is the same as deciding that he shall have worms.

I suggest you contact a veterinarian in your area that has experience in large-animal and/or equine practice, and have a conversation with him or her. And during that conversation, I want you to pledge not to view the veterinarian as some kind of criminal who stands at the front of the mega-chemical industry, because that is not what most of them are. And you then listen openmindedly to what they have to tell you about the types of wormers that are effective, and how to plan a program so that the horses need to be drenched with the least frequency. And then I want you to call another veterinarian, equally a horse practitioner, and have the same conversation with them. And a third. And then you weigh what you have heard and you make your decision on that basis. -- Dr. Deb

tuis mum
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 Posted: Sat Mar 7th, 2009 11:02 pm
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Thankyou so much for your reply i have only just started looking into herbal side of horse keeping but have a very good relationship with my vets due to having so many so i think i will carry on as i am and listen to science lol......I will purchase the book you suggested on plants as it can be confusing sometimes i'm hoping soy bean oil is o.k as that is what they receive with timothy pellets and sugar beat along with supplements i was starting to question a few things such as the flax seed so was great that you happen to confirm that also for me thanks kindly.

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sun Mar 8th, 2009 05:09 am
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Tui -- why are you feeding soybean oil? When you get your Poison Plants book, you will find that almost all types of beans (soybeans are beans) are poisonous to horses.

The deal is this, Tui. Small amounts of raw flax seeds have never killed any horse. Neither, to my knowledge, have a few soybeans. But the reason you feed the flax seeds is to derive the benefits of the currently-popular-to-think-about Omega 3 fatty acids. OK, well and good: all mammals do need those fatty acids in the diet, horses included. But a horse weighs 700 kg or 1,000 lbs., or more. To get enough raw flaxseed into him to give him an effective dose of the Omega-3's, you would have to feed him enough raw flaxseed to poison him.

Some people also feed flaxseed as a way to up the protein content in the horse's diet. This has been discussed particularly in Australia for years, because they really do sometimes have difficulty bringing in enough hay, and to keep the horses from dying they have to feed something. So the Australian government rightly warns its people that if they are going to feed flax, it must be in the form of processed cake. The cake is made by HOT PRESSING the flax, which denatures the toxin -- or MOST of the toxin -- it's still not something I would feed if I could get decent hay.

And likewise with soy oil. This is a concentrate, so it's not at all like feeding just a few soybeans; even a tablespoonfull of oil represents the "exudate" -- what was pressed -- from many beans. Soy is not the BEST food for humans, either, as far as that goes -- despite its popularity as a so-called "health food"; it has its downside (i.e. high phytoestrogen content, tendency to unbalance the calcium metabolism). And these are precisely the kinds of things you should most fear in growing young horses.

So Tui, what I am telling you is this: horses eat grass. That is what you feed them -- grass. Unlike us, horses can and do derive fat, protein, carbohydrates, and the whole spectrum of vitamins and other nutritive substances strictly from what looks to us like "salad". They are amazing animals. So part of the mistake you've been making, and that a lot of people make, is in a kind of subconscious way assume that they need something ("meat and potatoes") OTHER than grass. But if they have good grass, plus clean water, they need absolutely nothing else.

Grass grown on any kind of decent soil will have MOST of all they need for good health, including all the Omega-3's that a horse needs. You cannot raise a superior horse by means of supplementation; in other words, it is foolish to rely on supplementation. What you RELY on is providing a diet based on the best quality hay. If that is what you have provided, and if you feed it correctly (i.e. not in excess, not moldy, and not containing significant amounts of any grass such as ryegrass or fescue or phalaris or kikuyu that is toxic or harmful) -- then your horses will grow up just great. Then, whether they win at the track will depend further upon how well you get them broke, how intelligently they are trained and conditioned, how well they are jockeyed, and luck that keeps them from accidents.

So you trade in the money you have been paying for supplements, and you take that same money and you use it to buy the best hay you can find.

Only where there is a necessary feeding practice (such as soaking the hay) that we know is likely to remove nutrients from the hay; or where THE HORSE HIMSELF SHOWS YOU signs of trouble (difficulty gaining or holding weight, diagnosis of OCD, marked late shedding or dull coat, splitting or collapsing hooves) do you then respond to that by the judicious addition of substances to the diet, or by changes to the diet. The rational approach to feeding is to have a complete-spectrum test of your hay and pasture done once each year. As a New Zealander, you will be especially interested in the following: calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, vitamin K, and the fructan spectrum. And you DO need to learn your grasses, how to tell them apart whether in the field or dried in the hay.

Information concerning all of this is in the Poison Plants book, along with the addresses of a dozen laboratories that do pasture and hay assays. -- Dr. Deb

tuis mum
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 Posted: Sun Mar 8th, 2009 09:55 pm
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thanks all my horses are on rhy grass so they are always on de-toxify toxin binder and alleviate calcium/magnesium and premium nz mineral mix all promoted and told are essential in a horses diet according to jenny so il just go with that for now untill i learn a bit more as my horses have transformed and look  amazing, moving bvetter, behaving better and much improved since being on this so called "provide it plan" and  if definitely notice the difference. Our hay is grown off the property  also but am re-grassing with a grass mix called ash's mix containing soft brown top(apparently a not-toxic form) , cox foot, prairies and timothy grasses im hoping this will again improve my horses health and reduce my feed bill yet again.

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sun Mar 8th, 2009 11:26 pm
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Yes, Tui, all of this is good and appropriate, and I am not telling you to stop any of these things. This is HOW you get the good hay.

However -- you can stop feeding soy oil and flaxseed, and the sooner the better. If you need oil in the horse's diet, then use small amounts of ordinary corn or canola oil, or (more expensive, but better) olive oil. Olive oil is less convenient because it will gel at refrigerator temps, whereas corn and canola will still be liquid.

The main thing with oil is to refrigerate it, and throw it out the instant you open the bottle and it smells rancid. Rancid oil is the best way I know of to get harmful "oxidants" into the body. -- Dr. Deb

tuis mum
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 Posted: Mon Mar 9th, 2009 02:14 am
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thank you so much for putting my mind at rest i shall eliminate the oil and find out an appropriate amount of corn oil to feed and start to keep things as simple as possible. I  look forward to attending a clinic at some stage. Your forums are very interesting and its great having someone to reference things to in the ever confusing right and  wrong of how to care for my horses...i have one last question about the plant comfery my horses i notice will eat it any chance they get bar one horse who doesn't go near it? Should i remove it? Thanks kindly for your time.

DrDeb
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 Posted: Mon Mar 9th, 2009 05:51 am
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Tui -- yes, you should remove the Comfrey immediately. Comfrey (Symphytum officinale), along with all groundsels and ragworts (genus Senecio), heliotrope (Heliotropium), hound's tongue (Cynoglossum), blue weed/bugloss/Salvation Jane/Patterson's curse (Echium), rattlebox (Crotalaria), and fiddleneck/tarweed (Amsinckia) -- all of these common wildflowers contain large amounts of highly toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids.

Again, tea made from comfrey leaves is an old "herbal remedy". But it happens to be an herbal remedy that will give you liver failure. Once again: the downside outweighs any supposed advantages. One of the most insidious aspects of "PA" poisons is that they cannot be eliminated very readily from the body. That means that, once ingested, they go on poisoning liver cells. PA poisoning is the leading cause in horses of skin photosensitivity (to learn how the death of liver cells leads to photosensitization, which horsemen call "scratches" or "mud fever", please obtain and read either the Poison Plants book, or else get a copy of the Australian poison plants guide, or Knight and Walter's "Plant poisoning of animals in North America" -- all three of these books very well explain for New Zealanders, because the plants occur on all the different continents and islands).

Tui, just because a horse eats a plant or goes after eating it does not mean that he "needs" it. This is a terrible, false idea that has been bruited about the "natural horsekeeping" community.

Horses have zero wisdom about what weeds they should or should not eat. Mustangs, Brumbies, and Kaimanuas on range in NZ regularly die when the food that is good for them on the range becomes scarce and they turn then to eating whatever greenery they can find. This is precisely why you don't allow weeds to grow up in small paddocks; the animals will mow down anything except the sourest, prickliest, and woodiest -- and will even eat that, or try to, if they get either hungry or bored enough.

Another feature that makes the Senecios, Symphytums, and Patterson's Curse so bad is that these plants do contain a fair amount of fructan. This is the first thing about a plant that attracts horses -- they can smell the sugars. What they can't detect is the poisons that come with whatever sweet taste.

So you protect your horses by cleaning up your paddocks, and also by providing proper hay and/or graze. -- Dr. Deb

 

tuis mum
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 Posted: Mon Mar 9th, 2009 09:30 am
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wow thats great info is the damage reversible?? I extremely concerned it continues to damage the liver and explains perhaps why my mare in foal is going down hill so fast she  has access to comfrey allot and also chicory which i hope isn't another bad one i will put order in for books,,, i hope not  to much damage has been done she has broken out in mud fever which is not like her and  and appears to have a form skin reaction all over her body breaking out and going bald on her body and around her eyes,  loosing weight and become a bit laboured in her breathing and  perhaps this overlooked plant can possibly be held responsible for a bit of this thanks the vet will be out in two days to make a judgement call so will try eliminate her from anything that doesn't look like grass.

DrDeb
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 Posted: Mon Mar 9th, 2009 08:06 pm
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Tui, all the symptoms you describe are of fairly advanced PA poisoning. As soon as any horse starts to display sun-sensitivity, skin rashes, loss of hair or sunburning on thinner skin, liver failure/liver toxicity must be suspected.

Yes, the damage is irreversable and permanent, or at least very slowly recovering. Treatment will consist of covering the horse's thin skinned areas as much as feasible, and, of course, removing all toxic plants immediately.

When you get your Poison Plants book -- which more than anybody else who has written in here you seem to need urgently -- you will see that Chicory is a high-sugar plant. That's why they cultivate it in New Zealand: as a cow feed additive. Horses relish it as much as cows, and it can be OK for horses if they are of the type that has trouble gaining weight. But if they are of the type that runs to fat and cresty, then they can't have chicory or any other high-sugar feed. -- Dr. Deb

ruth
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 Posted: Mon Mar 9th, 2009 09:34 pm
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Dear Dr Deb, Interesting comments about the toxins in raw flaxseed (linseed in the UK); in old stable management manuals grooms were instructed to boil linseed to a jelly to eliminate toxins, but I havent seen this fed for years, so presumably the practice died out when the feed companies took over the world (well, so it seems at my feed merchants).  Given the current popularity of omega-3 oils my question is, is raw linseed also toxic to humans? 

Ruth

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 Posted: Tue Mar 10th, 2009 04:05 am
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Interesting topic!  What about fish oil for Omega 3's?   To me, it seems to not be what a grazing animal should eat, but it's becoming popular with the Omega craze.  -Andrea

DrDeb
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 Posted: Tue Mar 10th, 2009 07:35 am
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Ruth, the toxin that flaxseed and linseed oil contains is a cyanogenic glycoside. This type of molecule is broken down in the body to liberate cyanide.

Linseed oil sold for human consumption is HOT PRESSED, which (mostly) denatures the toxin. Linseed oil sold as an artist's medium (oil paints) or as part of the formula in commercially-manufactured house and boat paint, is not necessarily hot pressed and of course is not intended for human or animal consumption.

So if somebody is telling people to eat raw linseed oil, or raw flaxseed in any but tiny quantities ("sprinkle over breakfast cereal"), then they need to be brought before authorities. And I would not eat raw flaxseed in even that small an amount.

Again, again, again: the potential benefit is outweighed by the problem. And sometimes, even pretty good choices have downsides. The best sources of Omega-3's that I know of are oils from "oily" species of fish, and walnuts. If you choose to get your Omega-3's from canned wild salmon, you should avoid farmed (domestic) salmon because the Omega-3 content is much lower. Salmon are mid-to-top level carnivores, so you must also avoid any that comes from a bay or delta, where mercury and other toxins will likely be concentrated in the fish's flesh. If you choose to use "fish oil", keep the tablets in the 'fridge, because even encapsulated, fish oil can go rancid and then you have oxidants which are problematic. If you want to use walnuts, then guard vigilantly against their becoming rancid or moldy....the mold that grows on walnuts produces aflatoxin, which is an amazingly potent carcinogen as well as being directly toxic.

And again: yes, making specific efforts to eat Omega-3's is a craze. It's true that all mammals need this nutrient. However, it is also true that if you eat a healthy diet -- i.e. a diet that includes oily fish a couple of days per week -- then you will not need supplementation. So have a couple of kippers with your breakfast, and one supper per week that features fish. That's for humans. The human liver and digestive system is different than that of the horse. So, as I said previously, horses get all the nutrients they require from good hay/graze. The main objective in buying hay or developing/maintaining pasture is to be sure to have only grasses that are good for horses -- because even though horses are meant to eat grass, even some grasses are toxic. The worst problem grasses are: any ryegrass (Lolium), tall and meadow fescue (Festuca or Schedonorus), canarygrass (Phalaris), panic grasses/witchgrass (Panicum), Kikuyu (Pennisetum), Sudangrass/Johnsongrass (Sorghum). These are the most common which also have fairly high toxicity.

There are a number of others besides these, which may locally, temporarily, or due to poor pasture management practices affect individual farms. But rather than get partial answers here, folks, why don't you just get a Poison Plants disk of your own? I went to the trouble of putting together 1,000 pages of gorgeous photos and SUCCINCT, ORGANIZED information so you have all the information at your fingertips. We love PDF documents because the search function works so beautifully, and because the color photos can be printed out so you can take them to the field!

Happy plant-hunting....Dr. Deb

Bonnie
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 Posted: Tue Mar 10th, 2009 09:06 pm
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Thank you, Dr. Deb, for the information on soy oil and flaxseed.  I had a personal experience with soy that put me in the hospital a few years ago.  So, I now read labels religiously.  It's hard to find products that don't have soy added - they even put it in canned tuna.  Since I had a problem with soy, I started reading horse feed labels too.  There is soy in most of the horse feeds I've seen.  It's really hard to find a commercial feed that doesn't have soy added.  So, my diet is basically unprocessed fruits and vegetables, whole grains and fish and my horses' diet is grass or hay and unadulterated whole oats (when needed).

What about feeding horses probiotics?  Has any research been done on it?

I really enjoy your books on CD-Rom; the search feature on the computer makes it so easy to find things quickly.  I was going to ask about beet pulp, but the answer is on the Poison Plants CD.  :)  Thank you for the incredible amount of work it took to put that together.

Bonnie
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 Posted: Tue Mar 10th, 2009 10:52 pm
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More questions - hypothetical.  Suppose a person had fed their horse some of that "natural wormer" with garlic and wormwood in it (for a few days a few months ago).  And, suppose that the person's horse came down with a bad case of scratches on one white hind leg.  And suppose that the person's vet tried everything to get rid of it, with some success (it cleared up on one side of his leg and appeared on the other side).  Would it help to give the horse dandelion to cleanse the liver?  Is there anything else the person could do, besides throw the poison away (or send it back where it came from with a link to your website)?


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