Although liver disease in horses is fairly common, it is rare that it progresses into liver failure. We have summarised the signs to keep an eye out for below, to ensure that you can get an early diagnosis, and treatment, for your horse if required.
Horses most likely to develop liver problems tend to have certain pre-existing conditions such as toxins from certain plants or foodstuffs, viral infections and parasites, as well as any illness causing a loss of appetite for a prolonged period of time. Up to three-quarters of the liver is usually affected before symptoms are spotted.
There are several symptoms to watch out for that may signal your horse has developed either acute or chronic liver problems. These include:
Confusion/unusual behaviour – compulsive walking, head pressing (acute)
Light sensitivity on white parts of the skin (chronic)
Weight loss (chronic)
Swelling under abdomen (acute and chronic)
Gastric impaction – when food is not digested and remains in the stomach (acute and chronic)
As well as the physical symptoms, there could be certain behavioural changes that appear, such as your horse becoming irritable or hard to handle.
If you have concerns about your horse, please get in touch with us for advice.