Why Do Horses Foam at the Mouth? Causes and Treatment
Horses are majestic creatures that have captivated humans for centuries. As equestrians, we strive to ensure our horses are healthy and happy. However, we may sometimes notice our horses foaming at the mouth during exercise or in the stable. It can be alarming, and we may wonder what is causing it. This article will explore why horses foam at the mouth and how to address this issue.
Understanding the Basics of Horse Salivation
Like many other animals, horses have a complex digestive system that requires saliva for proper digestion. Saliva is critical in moistening food, breaking down complex carbohydrates, and neutralizing stomach acids. It also acts as a lubricant, helping food move through the horse’s esophagus.
Horse salivation is stimulated by the smell, taste, and texture of food, as well as the act of chewing. As horses chew, they produce more saliva, which mixes with the food to form a bolus. The bolus is then swallowed and passed through the esophagus to the stomach.
It should be emphasized that excessive salivation in horses may indicate an underlying health problem, such as oral health issues or blockage in the digestive system. Conversely, a lack of salivation can also indicate a problem, such as dehydration or a lack of appetite.
As a horse owner or caretaker, it’s essential to understand the basics of horse salivation to ensure that your horse maintains good digestive health. By observing your horse’s salivation patterns and noting any changes, you can quickly identify potential health issues and seek appropriate veterinary care.
What is Horse Foaming?
Horse foaming accumulates saliva in the horse’s mouth, which may spill out, creating a foamy substance around the mouth. It’s worth mentioning that the amount of saliva a horse generates can vary from one horse to another. Therefore, what may be deemed acceptable for one horse could be atypical for another.
Horses produce saliva constantly, even when not eating, and the saliva contains bicarbonate, which helps to buffer the acidic stomach contents, preventing gastric ulcers. Understanding the basics of horse salivation is crucial in identifying when a horse is foaming more than usual and determining the underlying cause.
Why do Horses Foam at the Mouth?
A horse’s respiratory rate elevates as a result of an increase in heart rate during exercise. This leads to improved breathing, and as a result, a horse may start to foam at the mouth. It’s entirely natural and need not raise any alarm.
Dental issues can lead to excessive salivation in horses. For instance, a horse with a dental abscess or sharp tooth may produce more saliva than usual, leading to foaming at the mouth.
Horses in pain may also foam at the mouth. For instance, a horse with a mouth injury or ulcers may experience discomfort when eating, leading to excessive salivation.
Horses can develop heatstroke, especially during the hot summer months. Excessive salivation that results in foaming at the mouth is one of the indications of heatstroke.
Horses can ingest poisonous plants, leading to excessive salivation and foaming at the mouth. For instance, horses that eat yew or hemlock can develop salivation as a symptom of poisoning.
Horses can get excited, leading to an increase in heart rate, respiratory rate, and hence, foaming at the mouth.
Infectious diseases such as rabies can lead to excessive salivation in horses. It is because the virus infects the horse’s central nervous system, leading to neurological symptoms such as excessive salivation.
Treatment Options for Foaming at the Mouth in Horses
Foaming at the mouth in horses can be a sign of various underlying health issues. Treatment options for foaming at the mouth depend on the underlying cause. Here are some common treatment options for foaming at the mouth in horses:
If dental issues are causing excessive salivation and foaming at the mouth, a veterinarian or equine dentist may need to perform dental procedures such as floating teeth, removing sharp points or addressing any other dental problems.
Choke is a condition where food or other foreign objects become lodged in the horse’s esophagus, causing discomfort and excessive salivation. Treatment for choking may involve passing a nasogastric tube to remove the blockage or administering medications to relax the muscles and help the object pass through the esophagus.
If a horse is diagnosed with rabies, immediate treatment is essential as this disease is life-threatening. Treatment typically involves administering rabies immune globulin and the rabies vaccine.
Foaming at the mouth can be a symptom of poisoning in horses. Treatment for poisoning depends on the type of poison ingested. In some cases, the horse may need to receive activated charcoal to help absorb and remove the toxins from their system. In critical situations, hospitalization and additional care may be required.
Certain medications can cause excessive salivation in horses. In case medication is the underlying cause of a horse’s excessive salivation, the veterinarian may need to modify the dosage or switch to an alternative medication.
Prevention of Foaming at the Mouth in Horses
Foaming at the mouth in horses can be a sign of underlying health issues, but in some cases, it can also be prevented with proper care and management. Here are some ways to prevent foaming at the mouth in horses:
Regular Dental Care:
Frequent dental care plays a vital role in preserving a horse’s dental health. Sharp points or other dental problems can cause discomfort, leading to excessive salivation and foaming at the mouth. Regular dental check-ups and floating teeth as necessary can help prevent dental issues that lead to foaming.
Proper Feeding Practices:
Feeding practices can also impact a horse’s oral health and prevent foaming at the mouth. Feeding a balanced diet with proper amounts of roughage, grain, and supplements can promote good digestion and overall health.
Avoiding Poisonous Plants:
Some plants are poisonous to horses and can trigger various symptoms such as foaming at the mouth, excessive salivation, and others.
Keep horses away from poisonous plants, such as poison hemlock and black locust, to prevent this.
Monitoring Medication Use:
Certain medications can cause excessive salivation in horses, leading to foaming at the mouth. To prevent this, monitor the horse’s medication use, dosage, and potential side effects, and communicate with your veterinarian to adjust medications or dosages as needed.
Foaming at the mouth in horses can be a sign of various underlying health issues. Excessive salivation can be a symptom of dental problems, choking, rabies, poisoning, or medication side effects. Suppose you notice excessive salivation or foaming at the mouth of your horse. Under such circumstances, it’s crucial to seek prompt veterinary assistance to determine the root cause and the proper course of action.
Prevention of foaming at the mouth in horses can be achieved through proper care and management, such as regular dental care, appropriate feeding practices, avoiding poisonous plants, and monitoring medication use. By taking preventive measures, you can help maintain your horse’s oral health and overall well-being.
Having an understanding of the reasons, signs, and remedies for excessive salivation in horses can guarantee quick and effective attention to your horse’s physical condition and overall welfare.
Yes, horses can foam at the mouth during exercise or when excited.
Yes, excessive salivation is one of the symptoms of heatstroke.
Dental abscesses or sharp teeth can lead to excessive salivation in horses.