Friday, 3 June 2016

All About ... Hepatitis.

What is it

Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver.  If the liver is compromised it fails to remove waste products from the blood and this results in damage to other major systems of the horse.  The liver can regenerate but unfortunately much of it  can stop working before the effects are obvious in horses.  This means that by the time the symptoms are noticed the damage is too severe to treat.

  • Jaundice - the mucous membranes of the conjunctiva (eyes) and the gums are yellow 
  • Possible high temperature 
  • Poor appetite 
  • Depression 
  • Colic 
  • Weight loss 
  • Diarrhoea 
  • Drowsiness, confusion, blindness, staggering 
  • Photosensitivity

  • Infection from bacteria 
  • Toxins in blood plasma or serum 
  • Virus 
  • Obstruction of the bile ducts 
  • Poisoning eg: Ragwort



Call the vet immediately to give your horse the best chance of successful treatment.   A blood sample can help identify the cause, alternatively a biopsy will be carried out. 


Depending on the cause, antibiotics may be prescribed.  For poisoning or viral causes horses often need an IV, antioxidants and other medication.  Rest in a stable with a low protein diet.  


Hepatitis is not common in horses.  However, ensuring their grazing is free from poisonous plants is vital, Ragwort is especially lethal!   

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Until next time!

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