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Dr Chris
Dr Chris, Veterinarian
Category: Horse
Satisfied Customers: 689
Experience:  BVetMed MRCVS
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I believe my horses have selenium poisoning, how can I help

Customer Question

HI I believe my horses have selenium poisoning, how can I help them
Submitted: 5 days ago.
Category: Horse
Expert:  Dr Chris replied 5 days ago.

Hi, Welcome to Just Answer. I'm Chris, a Vet based in the UK. I am reviewing your question and will get back to you asap with a response

Expert:  Dr Chris replied 5 days ago.

Could you tell me more about their symptoms and why you think that selinium poisoning may be likely? Thanks

Customer: replied 4 days ago.
Hi they have horizontal cracks on all 4 hooves, they have lost all their mane and tail, we took hair samples and it tested high in selenium
Expert:  Dr Chris replied 4 days ago.

OK thanks for that. So testing of hair samples can be useful, however it does not tell you when the selenium toxicity occurred or if it is still ongoing (hair samples reflect toxicity occurring over months to years). Blood samples would tell you if the high selenium intake is still happening now. The most likely cause is high levels in the local soil where the horses graze or where their feed is grown (if fed hay etc). Soil sample or feed sample testing can also be conducted. Treatment really only involves decreasing the selenium intake and waiting for signs to resolve, this could however take several months until new hair and hoof develops.

I hope that answers your question? Please let me know if you need any further help or advice. Chris

Customer: replied 4 days ago.
Unfortunately in Cyprus the labs don’t test selenium blood levels, also the horses here don’t graze, it’s is now a couple of months since they started to show signs, their hair has started to grow back, the cracks are now 1/3 down the hoof, but the horses are very lame, I am also concerned about laminitis, I tried to send you an X-ray I am not sure if you received it,
Expert:  Dr Chris replied 4 days ago.

OK that's good, it suggests whatever caused the toxicity may have now passed.

I agree there is rotation of the pedal bone on your xray, so if comparible clinical signs are present (increased heat and digital pulses), then laminitis is likely.

Expert:  Dr Chris replied 4 days ago.

Management of laminitis is primarily dietary (reduce feed intake/quality/reduce concentrates), alongside remedial farriery (frog supports) and of course pain relief (flunexin, phenylbutazone). Persistently affected horses should be tested for equine Cushings disease via blood samples

Customer: replied 4 days ago.
This another horse, can you see damage to laminae, this is common of all horses, there are 7 intotal affected,
Customer: replied 4 days ago.
There is a horizontal crack and then a secondary diagonal
Expert:  Dr Chris replied 4 days ago.

Again possibly a dietary issue, have you tried a biotin supplement for them?

Customer: replied 4 days ago.
Yes they have been on copper zinc biotin, have you seen cracks like this before?
Expert:  Dr Chris replied 4 days ago.

Yes they are fairly common. They are sometimes described as 'sand cracks' see https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/hoof-wall-cracks-in-horses

Remedial farriery and dietary supplementation is usually the treatment of choice (alongside pain relief)

Customer: replied 4 days ago.
On all four hooves I don’t think is common
Expert:  Dr Chris replied 4 days ago.

Do the coronary band lesions ooze at all?

Customer: replied 4 days ago.
No
Expert:  Dr Chris replied 4 days ago.

OK good. In which case it is likely to be linked to the issue with selenium. Other causes include coronary band dystrophy, pemphigus and certain types of mange (choroptic) . If the lesions are not improving or seem to worsen with time despite appropriate diet/supplements and farriery then biopsy of the coronary band for histopathology (if available) would be the next step to consider.

Customer: replied 4 days ago.
Can advice me, people have mentioned the hoof sloughing off, at what point would that happen just blow coronet band or at the point of crack if it’s lower
Expert:  Dr Chris replied 4 days ago.

At the coronet band if an immune mediated disorder was present

Expert:  Dr Chris replied 4 days ago.

I think it is unlikely for the whole hoof to Slough if selenium toxicity (which is now hopefully resolving) is the cause

Customer: replied 4 days ago.
Would you stable this horse or have in paddock?
Expert:  Dr Chris replied 4 days ago.

If they are lame then box rest would be advisible until the lameness is controlled, it is a little unclear here how much the lameness is due to laminitis and how much is due to pain from the hoof cracking - it is possibly an element of both unfortunately

Customer: replied 4 days ago.
I have on supplement zinc, copper biotin, is there any thing I should add for laminitis
Expert:  Dr Chris replied 4 days ago.

Consider pain relief if very lame - flunexin or bute