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Hepatitis In Horses

Updated: May 8, 2023


Hepatitis (inflammation of the liver) is generally secondary to septicemia, viremia, and toxemia. cirrhosis of the liver, known as chronic interstitial hepatitis, may also occur in horses.


Hepatitis occurs in association with diseases such as equine infectious anemia, viral arteritis, azoturia, streptococcal infections, and leptospiral and clostridial infections. It may also be the result of chemical intoxications such as lead, copper, arsenic, nitrates, phosphorus, and carbon tetrachloride. In addition, hepatitis may occur following grazing on certain plants such as Crotalaria, Senecio, alsike clover, locoweeds, and lupines. In the case of plant poisoning, the pyrrolizidine alkaloids (which are of plant origin) are usually responsible for changes in the liver.


Hepatitis may be suspected upon seeing jaundice (yellowing of the mucous membranes or white skin areas), associated with a loss of condition or coordination, and an inability to work.


Treatment for hepatitis consists of diagnosing and alleviating the cause. The veterinarian will administer dextrose, DL-methionine, B complex vitamins, and corticosteroids.


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