What is Ohio Buckeye Poisoning?
The Ohio Buckeye tree is a smaller tree at approximately 15 meters tall. It is a dense tree with low branches with beautiful shades of darker green, large leaves. These trees are quite distinctive; beautiful spring flowers bloom early and shiny seeds, that resemble the eye of a deer, appear alongside the rich, green leaves and flowers. The seeds of the Buckeye tree are commonly used as a source of food by the Native Americans. They were believed to be effective at the removal of toxins.
Ironically, the Buckeye tree is toxic. This tree has up to 13 species, most of which are found in the eastern part of the United States. They are also found in the Midwestern region of the country. These trees, also used as ornamentals, typically grow in forest environments of lower, bottom lands and can be found along rivers and streams. This tree is one of the first trees to come alive in the springtime.
The Buckeye tree has a rich history, as pioneers depended on the wood of the tree for their cabins and wooden items. The Buckeye seeds used to be carried as a good luck charm and to ward off arthritis. Today, the wood of the tree is commonly used in crates, toys, veneer, and furniture. The wood is easy to work with, as it is strong, yet light.
Ohio Buckeye poisoning in horses is caused by horses ingesting parts of the Ohio Buckeye tree. This tree, also known as the horse chestnut, has toxins within the seeds, sprouts, and leaves.
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Symptoms of Ohio Buckeye Poisoning in Horses
The Buckeye tree is toxic to horses when the seeds and leaves are eaten. Symptoms of Buckeye poisoning in horses include:
- Nervous system effects
- Muscle twitching
- Muscle weakness
There are several different names by which the Ohio Buckeye is referred to. It is important as a horse owner to be aware of the types of trees on the property that your horse frequents. This tree is also called:
- Horse Chestnut
- American Buckeye
- Red Buckeye
- Fetid Buckeye
Causes of Ohio Buckeye Poisoning in Horses
The Buckeye tree contains a few different toxic substances that are harmful to horses. Causes of Ohio Buckeye tree poisoning include:
- Leaves, seeds, and sprouts are toxic
- Contains glycoside aesculin
- Contains saponins aescin
- Possibly contains alkaloids
Diagnosis of Ohio Buckeye Poisoning in Horses
If your horse is showing signs of Ohio Buckeye poisoning, call your veterinarian immediately. If left untreated, Ohio Buckeye poisoning can make your horse very sick, but is rarely fatal. Your veterinarian will immediately assess your horse and ask questions pertaining to the amount of Buckeye possibly ingested, and the amount of time that has passed since the ingestion. If you are able to gather a sample of the leaves that were eaten by your horse, showing the veterinarian will hasten the diagnosis.
Your veterinarian may perform a urinalysis and a biochemistry profile to evaluate the condition of your horse and to rule out any other conditions. Differential diagnoses for Ohio Buckeye poisoning are encephalitis, herpesvirus, Sage poisoning, pyrrolizidine alkaloid toxicosis, strychnine poisoning, and bracken fern poisoning.
He may also use a specific stomach tube to gather a sample of the stomach contents. Once tested, your veterinarian will come to a definitive diagnosis. He may also administer activated charcoal in order to absorb any toxins in his stomach to prevent them from being further absorbed into your horse’s system.
Treatment of Ohio Buckeye Poisoning in Horses
Treatment of Ohio Buckeye poisoning in horses is symptomatic. It depends on the level of poisoning your horse is suffering from. Treatment methods may include:
This may have been administered by your veterinarian during the time of diagnosis in order to prevent the poisonous substances from further entering the horse’s system. Activated charcoal may be administered more than one time, depending on the level of toxicity.
Intravenous fluids help restore electrolytes in horses with various types of plant toxicity. These fluids also restore hydration, promote the urination and proper kidney function, and help your horse’s body rid itself of toxic plant substances.
Your horse will continue to be monitored for a few days by the medical professional to be sure his symptoms are dissipating and he is recovering. Your veterinarian may also take blood work and other laboratory testing to compare the results to the prior laboratory test results.
Recovery of Ohio Buckeye Poisoning in Horses
Once your horse is home, the veterinarian will alert you to the signs and symptoms to watch for in your companion. If any new symptoms arise, contact him to ask any questions to be sure they are not a cause for alarm.
Your horse will need plenty of rest, as determined by your medical professional. Ohio Buckeye poisoning is not typically fatal, and horses tend to recover after receiving treatment. Be sure to check your property for any other poisonous trees and plants, and remove the Ohio Buckeye tree as soon as possible so your horse does not become ill once again. If you are unsure of what plants and trees are poisonous to your horse, or if you are unsure of the types of plants and trees on your property, contact a horticulture expert, your veterinarian, your local ASPCA, or any other professional who is knowledgeable in the field of plants. This will prevent any poisoning to your horse, as well as other animals in your care.