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Weird Mouth Thing

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  • Weird Mouth Thing

    About 2 weeks ago my horse was fussy about eating but ate his hay just fine, was drinking, temp normal, pooping fine etc. Thought maybe he was just bored of what he was normally getting (he's done this before) and put him on some Ultium and he's eating that just fine. But I want to say maybe starting middle of last week I noticed he seems a bit slobbery. I just chalked it up to maybe clover or something and it wasn't really consistent.

    Last night though it seemed like he was slobbering quite a bit and when I flipped up his lip I saw the darkened skin and what looks like little tiny blisters. I couldn't even see his tattoo (wish I had my camera last night...it was really quite startling). When I went to check on him yesterday morning, he wasn't slobbering and quite a bit of the darkened area had 'disappeared' but last night he was slobbering a lot...it's pretty gross (I'm sure he's not thrilled about it either). He still is eating good though. Any ideas of what this could be?? I do have the vet scheduled to come out today but would like to know if anyone else has seen this before. Is it something he may have come in contact with in his turnout?

    Here's a link to a picture of what I'm seeing:


  • #2
    There may be something in his pasture or hay that is irritating him. Does he eat alfalfa? Blister beetles comes to mind.
    "My biggest fear is that when I die my husband is going to try to sell all my horses and tack for what I told him they cost."


    • Original Poster

      Well, he was getting alfalfa pellets about maybe two weeks ago (had switched him over from beet pulp because he started to say no to the beet pulp). After about 3 weeks on the alfalfa pellets he said no to those as well (he also can be very fussy about what he eats in general). He doesn't get alfalfa hay but was giving him some second cut hay (not much, just the odd flake here and there). When I checked on him this morning the amount of discolouration was about the same as in the picture I posted a link to and he wasn't actively drooling. I mean last night it literally was pouring out of his mouth in a stream. Kinda like he'd open his mouth and let it drain and then all would be quiet. Doesn't seem to have trouble swallowing (is eating ok and cleaning up his grub (Ultium and beet pulp).

      I was kinda wondering about the blister beet thing too and maybe from the alfalfa pellets?


      • #4
        If he is on grass hay check the seed heads. We have had some here in the past that looked like regular grass hay with fuzzy sort of seed heads that were really bunches of tiny round stickers . It did the same thing to the horses mouths.
        Looks similar to timothy heads but is not.
        Patty Stiller CNBBT,CNBF,CLS, CE
        Natural Balance Certified Lameness Specialist ,instructor.


        • Original Poster

          Originally posted by Patty Stiller View Post
          If he is on grass hay check the seed heads. We have had some here in the past that looked like regular grass hay with fuzzy sort of seed heads that were really bunches of tiny round stickers . It did the same thing to the horses mouths.
          Looks similar to timothy heads but is not.
          Hrm, I'll take a closer look at his hay tonight...I tend to shake it out and haven't seen anything but I'll look closer. Were you seeing the really dark pigmented skin as well?


          • #6
            Have the vet out to check. Could be something going on inside all the head cavities.

            Better to be safe than sorry. As I have sadly learned from recent experience.
            "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay."
            Thread killer Extraordinaire


            • Original Poster

              The vet was out this morning and seemed to think it was just slobbers. Doesn't explain the raised bumps and dark pigmented skin that obscured his tattoo though. I don't think the vet knew what it was.


              • #8
                I would definitely say some sort of allergic/toxic reaction. The "slobbers" would be secondary to all those blisters! I'd slobber to if I had that many blisters in my mouth

                See below quote re: blister beetles; sure looks like "severe skin inflammation and blisters" to me!

                Some other causes of mouth ulcers are:
                vesicular stomatitis, bute toxicity, splinters/thorns, and chemical stomatitis

                From UKY regarding blister beetles:
                "Blister Beetle Toxicity

                Cantharidin is the poisonous substance in blister beetles. It is comparable to cyanide and strychnine in toxicity... Very small amounts of cantharidin can cause colic in horses. The substance is very stable and remains toxic in dead beetles. Animals may be poisoned by ingesting beetles in cured hay. There is no sampling method that can detect toxic levels of blister beetles in cured hay.
                Cantharidin can cause severe skin inflammation and blisters. It is absorbed through the intestine and can cause symptoms such as inflammation, colic, straining, elevated temperature, depression, increased heart rate and respiration, dehydration, sweating, and diarrhea. There is frequent urination during the first 24 hours after ingestion, accompanied by inflammation of the urinary tract. This irritation may also result in secondary infection and bleeding. In addition, calcium levels in horses may be drastically lowered and heart muscle tissues destroyed. Since animals can die within 72 hours, it is imperative to contact a veterinarian as soon as blister beetle poisoning is suspected."


                • #9
                  Foxtail, Sandbur, and Ticklegrass, as well as Blister Beetles can cause mouth blisters in horses. Go to:


                  See if your hay looks like any of those pictures.

                  I would also remove ALL alfalfa hay/products from the diet immediately in case there are blister beetles present. They can kill a horse quite easily.


                  • #10
                    no ideas ~ Jingles for your horse ~
                    Zu Zu Bailey " IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ! "