Some horses drool a lot even when they are in excellent health, even if they have no dentition problems. It can get really messy when a horse starts drooling as it gets all over the place! But why do some horses drool more than others?
Over-salivation or excessive drooling can not only be annoying in situations such as exhibitions or competitions but it’s also caused by several factors. The most common cause is something called ” Slaframine Toxicosis ” caused by ingesting molds on red clover.
The mold is called ” Rhizoctonia leguminicola fungus ” and when horses graze in an enclosure full of clovers, they consequently produce excessive saliva due to the mold present on the leaves. Once removed from this environment and type of pasture, horses usually stop drooling excessively.
That said, if you feed your horse with hay contaminated with red clovers you will have the same effect, caused precisely by the mold present in them, and the horse will experience the sensation of ” Slaframine Toxicosis ” which will cause greater salivation.
How to recognize a contaminated clover
It is quite easy to recognize contaminated clovers in the enclosure as their leaves have a gray tint rather than the usual bright green. Contaminated leaves tend to turn black, and although eaten in moderation, and although horses do not tend to feel the influence, horses will eventually start drooling excessively if left in the pen. This hypersalivation is given by the bitter taste that these leaves have which irritates and stimulates the salivary gland of horses.
Other less common reasons a horse tends to drool include the following :
- Lesions on the tongue
- Dentition problems
- Abscesses in the mouth
- An external body embedded in a tooth
Another reason to take seriously that triggers hypersalivation in horses is some sort of blockage in their throat. In addition, horses suffering from stomach ulcers also tend to drool more than they should.
Many horses and foals tend to wear out the harness while being ridden which produces copious amounts of white drool, but this is not an issue to worry about. However, if the horse suddenly begins to drool excessively, it’s recommended that you call your vet for a follow-up visit. There are roughly 18 reasons why a horse is found to produce excessive saliva and some of these are fatal although quite rare.
Normal salivation in horses
A horse has three salivary glands inside the mouth, located below the tongue and throat. Incredibly, they can produce around 38 liters of saliva every day! Most of the time a horse will starts drooling due to an irritation triggered by some chemical they have come in contact with. That said, some oral pads or other equine medications can trigger hypersalivation.
When does hypersalivation become worrying?
If you notice your horse salivating excessively than usual and a lack of appetite or even difficulty swallowing anything, it’s recommended that you call your vet right away for urgency. Other alarming signs may include the following:
- If the horse starts drooling and is feverish
- If It’s listless and drools more than usual
- If the burr produced has a thick consistency and looks strange
If you notice any of the above symptoms in the horse it’s recommended that you call your veterinarian for a check-up.
It’s also advisable to show and check the place where the horse is taken to graze as there could be the triggering cause in the environment, as well as a problem of red clovers. The vet should rule out any kind of poisoning before treating the horse if necessary.
Some horses like to play with the harness and this results in a lot of drool around the mouth. Some horses when brought to graze in the enclosure where the red clover is found often produce extra saliva due to the mold that forms on the plant during the summer.
Taking the horse out of the paddock usually solves the problem but if there is red clover in their hay it could trigger excessive salivation again. If you have any doubts or are worried about the horse’s hypersalivation, it’s advisable to call the veterinarian immediately as there are many diseases that can cause overabundant salivation to be checked as soon as possible.