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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 16284
Experience:  General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
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What can i do for a ewe that looks like it may have acorn

Customer Question

What can i do for a ewe that looks like it may have acorn poisioning?

Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 3 years ago.

Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today. I do apologize that your question was not addressed before but different experts come online at various times. In any case, I just came online, read about your situation, and wanted to provide some information to you.

First, I am sorry to hear that you have a ewe affected by acorn toxicity. It can be a nasty toxicity for them; especially if they ingest enough to cause kidney damage (which is the make or break issue to whether they can be salvaged or not). Now you have not noted how long ago she may have ingested the acorns or what or how long ago she started showing signs; therefore I will just mention what treatments options we'd have for recent exposure.

Now first off, there is no specific antidote to the tannins in oak/acorn. Therefore, our focus is on limiting damage and supporting the animal. Specifically, we tend to treat these animals in the early stages with c
alcium hydroxide (to aid precipitation of the oak tannins from the system), activated charcoal (to bind any residual toxin still in the rumen), ruminatorics (to keep the rumen moving since atony is common with this toxin), and purgatives (ie mineral oil [1 L/500 kg], or magnesium sulfate [450 g/400 kg]). If ingestion was days ago, then some of these treatments will be too late to be of use, but we'd still want to consider treating her with calcium hydroxide and ruminatorics. Furthermore, IV fluid therapy to correct dehydration, acidosis, and flushing the toxin from the system is often beneficial. Further to that, there re reports of ruminal microflora transplantation being used in these cases.

Typically with supportive care, these animals can recover (though it can take months). That said, if she has kidney damage from ingesting high levels of the toxin, then her prognosis will be poor.
And because of treatment success hinging on her kidney function, you might consider either instigating the above intensive treatment or first having your vet check a blood sample to assess her kidney function to let you know whether you are fighting a losing battle already.

In regards XXXXX XXXXX of any further ewes suffering the same fate, I am glad to see that you have removed them from the oak contaminated field. Further to this, especially if they will have to go back to that field, you can supplement their pelleted ration (1 kg/head/day) with 10–15% calcium hydroxide. Furthermore, since acorn ingestion is a red flag of low quality or availability of proper forage, you might consider having more palatable feeds on offer to prevent them from turning to toxic plant material for sustenance.

I hope this information is helpful.

If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!

Dr. B.

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