A word about this page title.
I was surprised to find that "poisonous horses" is what most people type in when they search for help with equine poisoning. That's why I chose "Poisonous Horses" for the title of this page. This page is about where to get help when something has poisoned your horse.
Beautiful but deadly (the plant not the horse) poisonous sacred datura, in the background, grows wild here on a horse boarding property in southern California. According to the Arizona Cooperative Extension Service this plant has a repulsive smell and bitter taste to horses, but why take the chance?
Animal Poison Control Center Hotline
If you suspect your horse has ingested something poisonous to horses or has otherwise been exposed to something toxic to horses there is no substitute for calling your vet. However, sometimes your vet isn't available, and in that case the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) staffs an Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This organization is affiliated with the University of Illinois and has over 25 years and 850,000 cases of experience in dealing with poisoned pets, including horses. They have many vets on call, including board-certified toxicologists and equine veterinarians, though you may not be speaking directly with a vet when you call. Follow this link to read the bios of the APCC staff.
The Advantages of the APCC hotline:
The APCC has a wealth of experience to draw upon with repect to treating toxicity in horses.
It is staffed round the clock and is available when your vet may not be.
I was told they are occasionally able to help avoid a vet call when the situation is not serious.
What does calling the APCC hotline cost?
This is not a free service, but the fee is not out of line with a vet consultation. When I called to inquire about their fees they assured me that their primary interest was the animal, not the money, which may be $65 paid by credit card (as of 3/31/2010). I was also told that if the animal is poisoned by a product that the manufacturer often pays the fee. The APCC also offers a (900) number in which case the consultation fee is billed to your telephone at the rate of $20 for the first five minutes and $2.95 for each additional minute
Phone Numbers for the Animal Poison Control Center
You will be asked for a credit card number in case your consultation results in a fee. If you don't have a credit card available you may want to call the 900 number below, the fee for which will be charged to your telephone. Note: When I called to inquire about this service the representative stressed that they are more concerned about the animals than the money.
This is a toll call. $20 for the first five minutes and $2.95 for each additional minute, and listen carefully to the message you receive since rates change.
Information You'll Need When You Call the Hotline
The sex, weight, age, and number of horses involved. You will need to tell them you're talking about horses (or other equids) since this poison control center deals with all domestic animals.
The symptoms your horse is exhibiting.
All information about the toxin to which your equine may have been exposed, including type of toxin, amount, and when your horse was exposed.
If you believe your horse was poisoned by a product have the product packaging with you when you call.
Horses and Poisonous Plants
I have been told that poisonous plants are unpalatable to horses and are only a problem when the pasture is poor or over grazed. This is not always true. Read about plants poisonous for horses in the Merck Veterinary Manual.
Good Lists of Plants Poisonous to Horses
Note that these lists are not complete; Meaning that just because you don't find a plant on these lists doesn't mean it's not poisonous to equines.
Here is the Merck Veterinary Manual list of poisonous plants found in pastures and on the range in North America.
Here is a list of common trees found in North America which are toxic to horses.
Here is a link to Cornell University's plants poisonous to livestock and other animals page.
The ASPCA also has a list of plants poisonous to horses.
The Best Source of Local Toxic Plant Information
This is a big country and you can spend hours pouring over lists of plants that can cause poisoning in horses that don't even grow in your area. To find information on poisonous plants in your area contact your local United States Department of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service. Here is a list of contact information for your nearest cooperative extension office.
Here is a link to the National Pesticide Information Center's list of pesticide manufacturers. It includes phone numbers, in some cases emergency phone numbers, for help in case of equine poisoning due to poisonous pesticides. You will also find company contact information on the bottle or product packaging.
Poisons in the Water
Poisonous plants are found in the water, too.
I read an article in a magazine once about someone's horse who was having seizures. It turned out that the problem was a toxic algae in the horse's water. Sadly, it was discovered too late. Here is an excellent article about the toxicity of algae.
Here is a sobering video about some horses in Colorado that were poisoned as a result of a fluoridation process. This is not pleasant to watch, but kudos to Wayne and Cathy Justice for sharing their story to help others.
If you suspect there is a problem with your water you can have it tested at a local laboratory.
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