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The history of the English bluebell is quite colorful and it goes back to ancient Greek myths. While over the centuries it has been known by several scientific and botanical names, the current handle given to this plant is Hyacinthoides Non Scripta and it seems to have been dropped into the Hyacinthaceae family. It originated in England, as one of its names suggest, and can now be found elsewhere in Europe and North America. All parts of the plant, especially the bulbs, are considered toxic to horses and most other animals as well as humans.
Bluebell poisoning is a sickening of horses after ingesting a weed also known as English Bluebells, common bluebells, Endymion non scriptus, Scilla non scripta or wild hyacinths. The toxic process is similar to that of foxglove but not usually as dangerous.
Here are some of the symptoms which may be noted in the event your horse has ingested bluebells. The degree to which these symptoms may present will be dependent upon the amount of the plant which has been ingested:
Due to the chemical action of the glycosides which are similar to digitalis glycoside, consumption of larger amounts could cause more serious symptoms, such as:
The types of bluebell poisoning in horses relate to the degree to which the horse has ingested the plant and the degree of poisoning from which it is suffering. Certainly, the amount as well as the particular parts of the bluebell which have been consumed will determine the intensity of the poisoning. All parts of the plant are considered poisonous or toxic with the bulb being the most intense. The bulb resembles that of an onion and is commonly mistaken for an onion especially by humans. This plant, because of the similarity of the glycoside process to that of foxglove, has the potential to be deadly if consumed in large enough quantity and if medical care is not available.
Diagnosis of bluebell poisoning in your horse will be based on several things:
It should be noted that many of the symptoms noted above can be part of many other diseases, conditions and maladies of horses which emanate from other causes than plant poisoning. These other conditions must be considered and ruled out by your vet before he can develop and initiate a suitable treatment plan.
There really isn’t a cure or precise treatment for bluebell poisoning in horses. Your first action upon discovery of the above symptoms, or any symptoms deemed unusual for your horse, would be to remove the horse from the source of potential poisoning. For many horse owners, this would mean bringing the horse in from the pasture, stabling him and providing plenty of clean, fresh drinking water and nutritious. A quiet and restful atmosphere will also be advantageous for appropriate recuperation for your horse.
For other owners, it might mean changing the feed being offered to the horse. Your veterinary professional may wish to treat any diarrhea with medications to stop or slow it down so that any fluid loss can be reduced. Otherwise, treatment will likely consist of giving fluids (intravenous or oral), switching to a quality, nutritious feed as well as keeping the horse calm, quiet and allowing him to rest. Close monitoring will be necessary to assure that the horse is responding appropriately to the recommended treatment and is given additional medication if necessary for cardiac effects.
Recovery of your horse will likely take several weeks or months, depending on the severity of the poisoning. Your veterinary professional will need to follow the recovery process of your horse to assure the treatment is working, especially in view of the fact that ingesting large of amounts of bluebell can cause the cardiac issues which are commonly associated with foxglove poisoning. He may need to treat those cardiac issues or at least monitor them until safe levels are noted.
Since this plant can also poison other animals in your herd, you will need to identify the pastures or fields which contain this and other poisonous plants and make every attempt to rid those forage areas of these plants. This will need to be addressed so that you can protect the health of the remaining horses in your herd to keep them at optimum levels of production and performance.
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