Foreign Object Consumption

Foreign Object Consumption

Removing baling twine from haystuffs before feeding will reduce the likelihood of your horse ingesting or becoming entangled in strings, but this can be more difficult to achieve in round bales than square ones.

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Q. My stallion ate a piece of netting off a roll of hay. Will it pass through his system? What do I need to do to help it through?

Marie Osmond, via email


A. Although it is uncommon for a horse to ingest netting or string, if it happens it usually passes without complication.

I would still recommend watching your horse for any signs of illness, fever, abnormal behavior, or colic (abdominal discomfort or poor appetite can be colic signs). When animals (most commonly cats) ingest foreign bodies such as string, the main concern is whether the objects will become caught in their passage through the digestive tract and cause serious damage. Fortunately, this is unlikely in horses; the string would truly have to be exceptionally long to slowly bind and perforate the intestines, as occurs in smaller animals. I would suggest paying attention to his attitude and appetite, and if he starts running a fever call the veterinarian out to examine him.

More than likely you will see no complications, as I imagine far more horses do this than we realize. It is always a good idea to know your horses' normal behavior and temperature, as changes in these parameters (see TheHorse.com/EquineHealthSigns) can often give us earlier indications of a problem than if we just wait until major problems present themselves.

As a precaution, remove baling twine from all haystuffs to reduce the likelihood of your horse ingesting or becoming entangled in strings. This can be more difficult to achieve in round bales than square.

About the Author

Kristen Slater, DVM

Kristen Slater, DVM, practices with Kasper & Rigby Veterinary Associates in Magnolia, Texas. Her practice interests include preventive medicine, reproduction, sports rehabilitation, and conditioning.

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