Your horse’s liver is very similar to that of most other species, except the liver in a horse is quite small compared to the size of his body. Also, unlike many other mammals, a horse’s liver does not have a gall bladder to store bile.
A horse’s liver is situated near the front of the belly, between the lungs and intestines. Mostly on the right hand-side of the horse’s body, to allow room for their stomach on the left.
The vital organ helps in so many ways and is so very hard-working to keep your horse fighting fit and healthy. These include;
- Processing nutrients from their food to create protein and vitamins.
- Cleansing your horses’ blood to remove any toxins that may have been eaten.
- Control levels of fat, sugars and proteins in the blood, so that they are ready to be used by other organs, muscles etc. when needed.
- Helping to control the consistency of blood
- Produces bile which helps to digest food
All the above shows what a busy organ the liver is and how important it is to your horse. The liver is so amazing that it can function and normally perform all these jobs even when parts of it are damaged or diseased.
The main cause of damage to your horse’s liver is the plant Ragwort. With it’s very bitter taste horses, won’t normally eat this plant. However, occasionally it is dried in hay and they digest it. Ragwort is a dangerous toxin that can continue to damage the liver months and years after it was originally eaten. Other causes of liver damage can be; moulds in hay, soils with very high levels of iron, bacteria, viruses and parasites.
If minor damage is caused your horse may show no symptoms of damage. In more serious cases symptoms include weight loss, becoming quieter, lack of appetite or signs of colic, signs of diarrhoea and his skin may become sensitive to sunlight or itchy. Severe cases can cause much worse problems. However, the liver has an amazing ability to repair itself, and a blood test can help to detect it and determine how well the liver is working.
For more information please feel free to call Morag on 01698 886 492 or email on email@example.com