Fact 4the day: Nightshade poisoning in horses
Atropa Belladonna Intoxication in Horses
There are a whole host of wild plants that have been found to be poisonous to horses. One of the more common and especially toxic types is the deadly nightshade, or atropa belladonna.
Nightshade is naturally distasteful to horses, and as a rule they do not prefer the taste of this plant over other grazing foods. More often, it is eaten unintentionally when parts of the plant make it into the horse's food supply, perhaps the fallen leaves from the nightshade bush were razed along with the grass, or when there is a lack of grazing material for the horse to choose from. The most toxic parts of the plant are the leaves and stems, which may be found in the grazing grass. The degree of toxicity decreases in the berries of the plant, but they do continue to be toxic and can accrue in the system over time, resulting in chronic toxicity.
This can affect horses of any age, and the plants can be found in a number of environments, most often in wooded areas, along roadsides, amongst wild growth on farmland, and on open pastures and fields.
Symptoms and Types
•Dilated pupils (mydriasis)
•Change in heart beat (i.e., irregular in pace or increased pace - tachycardia)
•Sensitivity to light, or blindness
•Loss of coordination (ataxia)
•Recumbence (lying down excessively)
•Loss of consciousness, coma
•Death (severe cases)
Ultimately the poisoning will occur when the horse ingests deadly nightshade (atropa belladonna). This may occur while the horse is grazing or unintentionally if the plant is accidentally mixed with horse's feed.
Along with a full examination, a complete blood profile will be conducted, including a chemical blood profile, a complete blood count, and a urinalysis. In some cases, the toxic properties of the plant can be isolated and verified. Atropine, the main toxic component of atropa belladonna, may be detected in the samples.
If your horse is showing definitive symptoms of toxicity, bring a sample of your horse's feed as well as fecal sample. Your veterinarian will use them to determine its material makeup.
The course of treatment for poisoning by deadly nightshade will likely vary from case to case, depending on the severity of the symptoms. Sedatives may be administered as a method of controlling the convulsions that are associated with this condition.
The main toxic ingredient, atropine, is an anticholinergic alkaloid. The resulting symptoms occur as a result of the atropine's ability to block the neurotransmitter that controls autonomic nervous system functions, such as the functioning of muscles, and fluid and sweat production. In the central nervous system, atropine affects sensory perception and the ability to organize thoughts and planned actions. Neostigmine methyl sulphate is often used to reverse the effects of the atropine.
Living and Management
If you are aware of nightshade plants growing on your property or in locations that are accessible to your horse, it is best to eradicate these plants from the vicinity. Additionally, keep your horse well fed and active, as some horses will eat a nightshade bush out of hunger or boredom.
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Thought 4the day: Sometimes in life to get your head around things you need to stop and take stock of whats going on or how things are progressing or what needs to be done next. If your like me you find yourself leaning against a 4 legged friend as i find they help me think. Help me to figure out whats next. Help me to understand where things need to go, or have been or will be. Their calming natu...ral ability to heal and be with people even after all they have been through amazes me. Puzzle for example shes excelled much beyond my wildest dreams that i can even rug up and unrug her without teeth, ears pinned back or someone having to hold her. Shes such a placid calm girl and even non bullying in the field now. Shes made friends and moved on bless her. Horses teach us alot and will always teach me everything. Watch, listen and understand....