08-10-2012, 03:06 PM
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Our vet is very competent and thorough. We took DB into him as soon as we saw what was happening. He palpated the bladder, checked for compressed nerves, tail function, etc. A urinalysis was run which showed absolutely no crystals. I'm confident that his diagnosis of Johnson Grass poisoning is accurate, especially since the BO confiirmed that there was Johnson Grass in the hay. DB is very sensitive to sedatives, drugs, etc. The sedative dose appropriate for a mini, will completely knock out this 16+hh thoroughbred, so I'm assuming he is/was equally sensitive to the Johnson Grass. If he had continued to eat the hay, I'm sure we would have had to put him down immediately. We stopped access to the hay, and the poisoning stopped progressing. Unfortunately, it can't be reversed. He shows absolutely no sign of pain and other than the constant dribbling, he continues to act normally. He cannot voluntarily urinate, and he shows no indication that he knows his bladder is full....he never stretches out or attempts to urinate. For that we are grateful. If he was in pain, I would put him down immediately.
This problem is showing up in many horses in the Southwest or other areas where Johnson grass is being used as hay because of the drought. IF it is handled correctly, it can be used as hay. If you're willing to take the chance.
The hay our BO got had Johnson grass in it and she was assured that it was all right. Since our winters are so mild, it didn't freeze (and that is one major cause of Johnson grass being poisonous...another is including the seed heads)...she had no way of knowing our horse would react so badly.