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Poisoned horse
 Moderated by: DrDeb  
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Kathy75
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Joined: Wed Sep 3rd, 2008
Location: Cape Town, South Africa
Posts: 21
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 Posted: Mon Aug 10th, 2009 10:24 am
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Hi Dr Deb

I know you have researched poisonous plants, (and your book is definitely on my 'wanted' list) so I'm hoping you may have any suggestions on whether anything else can be done to help this horse. He's a 4yr old Thb/appaloosa, we found him yesterday morning, staggering, trembling, walking like he was drunk and completely uncoordinated.

His owner called the vet immediately, but being a Sunday, he only arrived after lunchtime. By this time the horse seemed worse, he was spending most of his time lying down. We showed the vet the creeper that we suspected the horse may have eaten, and he confirmed it was the 'bobbejaantou', also known as monkey rope or cynanchum ellipticum, I think there are many varieties around the country (we are in the Western Cape, South Africa). The horse was showing classic symptoms of this type of neurotoxic poisoning - the vet says any heart shaped leaf with a pointy tip contains these neurotoxins.

Looking around the paddocks yesterday, we found this creeper growing elsewhere, and have been pulling it all out, but it's a bit late of course for this poor horse. The vet administerd a sedative so he could put this horse on a drip, about 5l worth, but says there's not much else that can be done except support the kidneys, that it might take a few days for the horse to pull through. He seems optimistic about recovery, but did mention there's always the possibility this could kill him. He's also warned these horses can develop terrible bedsores on their hips because they lie down so much. He's being kept in our grass lunge arena, the vet advised keeping him out of the stable, he's used to sleeping out anyway.

This morning he was not much better, still lying down mostly, eating his teff and oat hay where he lies, still very shaky when standing and staggering around briefly before collapsing. His appetite seems good, though he's not interested in his speedibeet, but we are worried he's not drinking enough. The vet suggested rubbing salt into his gums to get him drinking more??

When I left this morning the owner was talking about getting the vet out again today to admister another drip.

So I'm just wondering if there's anything else we can do to support his kidneys, some homeopathic or herbal supplement perhaps?

I have been googling, and found someone who had a similar case using charcoal for her horse, which pulled through after 5 days. I have bentonite powder at home, a clay similar to charcoal? The stuff is a nightmare to administer, I've tried it on my horse before, mixing it with water to a runny texture and syringing it down his throat, but the experience was not well received by him, I'm sure drinking mud is not fun. But it could help clear the toxins from this horses' system? I have read that it's negative ionic charge attracts the positive charge of toxins as it passed through he horses body, if I'm correct, so we could try this this on a can't-hurt-might-help basis?

I'd be most grateful for any other suggestions, anything that could help us get him through this, anything that could support his kidneys. I feel terrible that we have allowed this poisonous creeper to grow on our property, just shows how we need to be more proactive about what type of plants our horses are exposed to.

 Thanks in advance

Kathy

 

 

Pauline Moore
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Joined: Fri Mar 23rd, 2007
Location: Crows Nest, Australia
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 Posted: Mon Aug 10th, 2009 11:55 pm
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Hello Kathy - I have used activated charcoal for mild gas-type colic and usually keep a tub in my feedshed for emergencies.  Symptoms have eased within 15 minutes in these cases. I have also used it for the neighbour's goats who became bloated (and footsore) after gorging on grain - after checking with a vet first that this would be OK.

Activated charcoal is available in this country at pharmacies and healthfood stores.  Small amounts are effective - for the horses I mixed one dessertspoon of charcoal with enough apple puree to make a sloshy paste that I could then syringe into the mouth, using a 20ml syringe with the nozzle cut off to make a larger opening.  I followed up next day with a dose of probiotics.  For the goats I used the same amount of charcoal mixed with an equal quantity of bicarbonate of soda and apple puree, dosing them twice a day for 2 days.

I do not know if this would be appropriate for your horse so please check with your vet before giving him charcoal.

Very sorry to hear the story, hope your horse is able to fully recover.

Best wishes - Pauline

ozgaitedhorses
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Joined: Mon Apr 30th, 2007
Location: Australia
Posts: 55
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 Posted: Tue Aug 11th, 2009 12:13 am
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Hi Kathy!
Charcoal will only adsorb the poinson that's still in the gut, not the poinson that is already circulating in the body.
Chris Pollitt reports 1-5 g/kg/day being used to treat plant toxicoses: http://www.uq.edu.au/~apcpolli/downloads/chrispollitt_9_Laminitis_Medical_Therapy.pdf


As for water intake: you could try soaking his hay. Or you could offer him some watermelon.


I'd also keep an eye on his hooves. Check for heat and digital pulse regularly to catch any developing laminitis early on.


All the best - I'm keeping my fingers crossed!
Manu

Kathy75
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Joined: Wed Sep 3rd, 2008
Location: Cape Town, South Africa
Posts: 21
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 Posted: Tue Aug 11th, 2009 08:08 am
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Thanks for the advice Manu and Pauline, very helpful.

I gave the owner some bentonite mixed with water yesterday, I don't think she had much luck administering it,  but apple sauce is a far better idea than water, the stuff just doesn't mix well with water. Maybe we could mash it up with watermelon too....

But if like Manu says it's only effective in the gut then it might be too late to use it. There is a different vet coming to check on him today, and I know this one advised charcoal for a similar poisoning case years ago that I read about on a local forum, so I'll tell the owner about this and she can ask him whether we should keep on with it.

The case I read about took 5 days for the horse to pull through. This morning the gelding was the same, he got up briefly to stagger around for 5 mins then collapsed. When I left home he was eating his teff from a lying position. Hopefully it's just a matter of time.... fate can't be so cruel as to take yet another horse from this person, she's lost 2 horses in as many years, one to colic and the other to navicular disease and constant sub solar abcessing. She's only had this youngster for about 6 months.

Thanks for the good wishes

Kathy

 

erobb123
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Joined: Fri Jun 19th, 2009
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 Posted: Wed Aug 12th, 2009 11:14 pm
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Kathy: how's the horse? I know of a mare in the US who was deathly ill for about 5 days from eating a poisonous mushroom. I wasn't here at the time, but those who were said she was viciously sick, they didn't think she would make it, people were sleeping in the barn with her. That was many years ago now and she went on to a successful breeding career, so sometimes these things can be overcome. I don't know what they were doing that necessitated sleeping in the barn, if I see one of them, I will ask.

Keeping my fingers crossed for the horse....

-- Erica

Vickie
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Joined: Thu Feb 7th, 2008
Location: Coaldale, Alberta Canada
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 Posted: Thu Aug 13th, 2009 04:21 am
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fresh  dandelion helps the horse's liver , but if you can get crushed and sprinkle it in the water, or on his grain.

Vickie

Kathy75
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Joined: Wed Sep 3rd, 2008
Location: Cape Town, South Africa
Posts: 21
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 Posted: Thu Aug 13th, 2009 08:12 am
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Thanks Vickie and Erica

Thankfully he is much improved, still lying down for long periods, but he is now able to stand on shaky legs for a while and graze. He's looking much steadier compared to a few days ago. He's even managed a few threatening kicks and squeals at my Thb who likes to lean over the fence and try wind him up.

The other vet that came on Tuesday mentioned out of the 40 odd horses he's seen with this, only 1 has died, slightly reassuring odds.

I had to take my dog to my small animal vet yesterday who also a practises homeopathy, and she recommended giving the horse Rhus tox 200c, said it stimulates the immune response to poison ivy which is of the same family as this monkey rope.

A friend told me she's seen ponies belonging to a yard down the road, happy munching on this creeper. When she pointed out to the owner that it was poisonous, she was brushed off with a 'no it's fine, they often eat it, never had a problem before'......

I wonder if some horses have more immunity or tolerance to certain plants that would kill another horse. Better safe than sorry though!!

Kathy

 

erobb123
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 Posted: Thu Aug 13th, 2009 10:21 pm
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>> brushed off with a 'no it's fine, they often eat it, never had a problem before'...... <<

Yes, I've heard that one before. At the farm I grew up, they had a hair-raising and tragic episode many years ago (thankfully I was not there). There were bushes outside one smallish pasture that everyone insisted the horses routinely ate. Then one day, when there were three yearling colts in this field, one ate some of the bush, got a drink of water, took a few steps, stood straight up on his hind legs screaming, and dropped dead. The other two were immediately taken to stalls just at the side of the pasture. The second one died within minutes, the third one didn't last ten minutes beyond when the vet got there. As near as anyone could tell, it was the bushes. Yew bushes, which most anyone would agree are poisonous. And the woman who owns the farm actually knew it because they had another horse die with similar symptoms years earlier. Gruesome. Yes, the bushes were ripped out after that.

Sometimes a plant is not toxic until it is dying (wild cherry). Or the horses don't eat it if it is growing, but if it gets mowed (buttercups) or pulled (milkweed), then it gets down on the grass, which they want, and they eat it by accident. I'm almost amazed that they don't get poisoned more often.

I am really glad the horse is doing a bit better. Upright and eating is good, defending against another horse's advances is excellent. Thanks for the update.

-- Erica

Kathy75
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Joined: Wed Sep 3rd, 2008
Location: Cape Town, South Africa
Posts: 21
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 Posted: Fri Aug 14th, 2009 08:17 am
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That's a horrific story Erica, that plant must be quite lethal to act so quickly!

I'm glad to report this horse is hugely improved. Since I got back from work yesterday afternoon til I left this morning, I haven't seen him lie down once. He's still looking a bit stiff and tucked under in the hindquarters, but no more trembling or shakiness.

The vet did mention this is a muscular issue, so there won't be any nerve damage... big relief!!

So it should be just a few days before he's 100% and can rejoin our little herd of 4.

Thanks for the support from everyone.

Kathy

 

 


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