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Treating Forage Poisoning in Horses

While it is normal and healthy for your horse to graze, it is important for your horse to be provided with a healthy pasture on which to graze. If not, your horse runs the risk of suffering from forage poisoning.

Treating Forage Poisoning in HorsesForage poisoning is a condition that occurs when your horse ingests spoiled vegetative matter resulting in botulism. Caused by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, botulism is a paralytic disease that typically appears four to five days after eating the spoiled matter. Symptoms associated with forage poisoning include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Presence of food and saliva in the nose
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Problems with walking
  • Keeping the head low to the ground
  • General weakness
  • Difficulty eating

If left untreated, forage poisoning is usually fatal. Even when treated, the condition may result in death. Therefore, it is important to begin treatment as soon as possible.

To test for forage poisoning, a veterinarian will need to conduct laboratory tests on feces or stomach content. Once botulism is confirmed, an antitoxin may be used to treat the condition. Treatment typically also includes IV fluid therapy and physical therapy to maintain circulation and prevent bedsores. Antibiotics may also be given due to the increased risk of aspiration pneumonia caused by the inability to properly swallow.

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