Dangers of Acorn Poisoning

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Every season brings about a fresh batch of potential problems for horse owners and riders. Autumn might be one of the most aesthetically pleasing seasons, the leaves turning a rich burnt gold before they twist and curl off the branches, but like any change in the time of year, it brings about a host of health risks you need to be aware of. Acorns are the nuts produced by oak trees and while they might be an attractive foodstuff to squirrels, heavy consumption can be toxic to horses.

What Is Acorn Poisoning?

Tannins that exist within acorns and the leaves, stems and blossoms of oak trees can be poisonous to horses when consumed in large quantities. The tannic acid can cause lesions in the intestinal lining, causing kidney damage and gastroenteritis. Symptoms can include colic, loss of appetite, bloody diarrhoea or constipation amongst other signs.

How Can It Be Prevented?

Most horses won’t choose to eat acorns if they have the right amount of forage, but some have been known to acquire a taste for them. If they do have a history of eating acorns then you should keep an eye on them to see if they exhibit any of the signs of acorn poisoning. Try to prevent exposure to acorns by fencing off any potentially problematic oak trees or by moving the horses to another field for the autumn.

How Can It Be Treated?

There is no specific antidote to acorn poisoning and it can quite often prove fatal. Treatment can be limited supportive care; vets will provide horses with fluids and electrolytes while they attempt to move things through the animal’s guts, using Epsom salts, charcoal feeds and liquid paraffin. Because it can take a while before you notice if your horse is unwell, it may be worthwhile having protection in place to cover you for costly vet’s fees and treatments.

www.horse-insurance.co.uk offer Vet’s Fees cover for up to £3,000 per incident, plus up to £1,000 for other vet recommended treatments. With 40% Intro discount and 5% Multi-horse discount available, you could provide yourself with financial peace of mind in the event of an episode of acorn poisoning. Visit www.horse-insurance.co.uk  today and find out more!


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