Ask the Vet – Blister beetles, clover slobbers, mineral oil, and more! – September 2019

DAN: Hey, SmartPak fans. I’m SmartPaker Dan. She’s Dr. Lydia Gray,
SmartPak Staff Veterinarian and Medical Director. And we’re here to answer
horse health questions asked and voted on by you. Now, I know last
month we did promise that we would be out of the
studio for this episode. DR LYDIA GRAY: We did. DAN: But unfortunately,
the weather did not get that message. So unfortunately, due
to weather conditions, we did have to cancel that. DR LYDIA GRAY: We’re right
back where we usually are. DAN: Maybe we’ll
make it up to you by showing you a wonderful photo
of Dr. Gray driving two minis. If this does not put a smile on
your face to start your day– DR LYDIA GRAY: It put a smile
on my face and my navigator’s face. DAN: I know. You look like you’re absolutely
enjoying yourself so much. DR LYDIA GRAY: How can you
not with Pippin and Bilbo? They’re adorable. DAN: What’re their names, again? DR LYDIA GRAY:
Pippin and Bilbo– DAN: Very cute. They’re so adorable. DR LYDIA GRAY: –the hobbitses. Yeah. DAN: But you do actually
have a little bit of a change in your horse life right now. DR LYDIA GRAY: A
little bit taller, yep. DAN: But we will
cover more of that as we get closer to
question number four. We don’t want to spoil it
for you, but it’s a good one. We’re very excited for you. So not to delay the process. Let’s drive right into
question number one. So this was asked
by Siera on YouTube, and she would like to know,
“Should I give my horse mineral oil to keep her
from getting colic?” DR LYDIA GRAY: You look shocked. I was shocked. The short answer is no. DAN: That’s what I figured
you were going to say. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yep, yep,
and I’ll tell you why. So first, though, let
me read a definition I found of mineral
oil, which is also known as liquid petrolatum. I mean, the name just
sounds awful, right? DAN: Mhm. DR LYDIA GRAY: “A
purified mixture of semisolid
hydrocarbons obtained from petroleum, used as
a base for ointments, protective dressings,
and soothing applications to the skin. Called also petroleum jelly.” DAN: Doesn’t sound like
something you really want to– DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. So there’s no
evidence that daily– I don’t know if she was
intending daily– regular, let’s call it, administration
of mineral oil to horses orally, having them ingest
it, prevents colic. And there’s actually
not a ton of evidence– when your horse
colics and the vet comes out and
administers mineral oil by nasal, gastric,
or stomach tube, we’re getting away from that. And now we’re still
putting the tube in, because the tube
itself is diagnostic. Is there fluid in there
that needs to come out? Because you know
horses can’t vomit. DAN: Yes. DR LYDIA GRAY: But
we’re putting water in, we’re putting
saline in, electrolytes, and we find that
those agents, or just water, softens impactions and
gets things moving again much better than mineral oil did. DAN: OK, because I was going
to say, I know commonly, we’ve had horses colic. That’s usually used to
be the standard protocol. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. We’re moving away from that. We’re moving away from that. DAN: Learned something new. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah, yeah. And it’s a slow thing because
it’s been very traditional for many years, but there’s
research now that says, you know what? There’s better outcomes
when we just put water, or electrolyte– salt water. So there’s a reason– there’s
some bad things that happen when you give them mineral oil. Because it doesn’t get
digested or absorbed, and it has no nutritive value. It can actually
prevent the absorption of fat-soluble
vitamins A, D, E, K. So long-term daily
or regular use would prevent
nutrient absorption. It can also prevent
absorption of medications. DAN: So it would have an
impact in another way. DR LYDIA GRAY: Absolutely,
and it makes sense because it’s used for
certain fat-soluble toxins. It can be given to
block their absorption. So it blocks the absorption
of things, good and bad. DAN: So if the horse has that
through their digestive system, not good. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. So and the other thing is
there’s more important, more appropriate diet and management
strategies that we can use, because we know the proven risk
factors for colic, like hay changes, grain changes,
abrupt changes in exercise like stalling when they
were used to being out, or exercised a lot. It’s much better
to focus on those that we know that
work than things that are old wives’
tales, or rumors, or there’s no proof behind. And then the final
thing I want to say is that you never force
mineral oil down a horse. And they’re not
going to eat enough in their pan to
make a difference, and some people do get tempted– well, I’m going to take
a big oral dosing syringe and put some in. And that’s a problem because
if they aspirate it or get it down the wrong pathway, they
get it into their lungs, it could be really
serious, even fatal. So never, never orally syringe
your horse with mineral oil. DAN: Let’s not do that. Well, we’ve done lots of
episodes about colic before. Like you said, there’s
also all these risk factors and other ways we can
help support them. So we’ll definitely
put the links in the description
for you guys for those so you can check all out–
all those resources for you. Awesome. Well, onto question
number two, and this was submitted by Meaghan
on the SmartPak blog. That’s And Meaghan wants to know
“How much loose salt should I feed daily? I live in Florida, so
my horse occasionally sweats and seems
to not drink much. Please help.” DR LYDIA GRAY: So did you
take some sort of chemistry when you were in college? DAN: I’d probably try to avoid
that as one of my sciences. DR LYDIA GRAY: OK,
well, we’re going to do a chem 101 here today
and a little bit of math. DAN: OK. Oh. [LAUGHTER] DR LYDIA GRAY: So according to
the NRC, which I quote probably almost every video– it’s the nutrient
requirements of horses– a horse just standing
in a pasture, and eating, and
blinking, and breathing needs 10 grams of sodium a day. DAN: 10 grams of sodium a day. OK. DR LYDIA GRAY: If that
horse is in heavy work, is exercising and sweating,
then up to like 40 grams, so four times as much. Now, there’s very little sodium,
and chloride for that matter, in the horse’s
regular, natural diet. Hays and pastures and grains–
there’s just not a lot of salt, not like human food. Ours is loaded with it. And then we should say
that salt, the term, is made up of
sodium and chloride. DAN: Yes. DR LYDIA GRAY: See? DAN: I did take that. OK, maybe I did take chemistry. I’m in. DR LYDIA GRAY: And then
now its where it gets hard. If you look at a molecule of
salt, which is sodium chloride, 40% of that molecule is
sodium and 60% is chloride. You with me? DAN: I’m with you– 40/60. Gotcha. DR LYDIA GRAY: So if
I am trying to give my horse 10 grams of salt,
how many grams of sodium am I giving him? DAN: He’s only
getting 40% of that. DR LYDIA GRAY: So 4. DAN: Yes. I wasn’t going to do the math. I could only say 40%. DR LYDIA GRAY: OK. Yeah, so how do I get 10
grams of sodium in my horse? Doing the math, I have to
give him about 28 grams of salt. That’s about an ounce. DAN: OK, so one ounce of salt. DR LYDIA GRAY: And
roughly two tablespoons. So we’ll make this
super practical. DAN: I can do those things. DR LYDIA GRAY: Right, yeah. So that’s what she
wanted to know. Now the problem with salt– and I’m sure you’ve
experienced this– back in the day, when we
filled up a salt shaker, we put a little rice kernel in
it because salt is hygroscopic. DAN: I love when you use
big words in the morning. DR LYDIA GRAY: In the morning. [LAUGHS] It means it
attracts water from the air. And so once you open your Morton
container of salt in the barn, really soon, it just turns
into a big, hard rock, and you can’t use it. So the better thing to do
is we put salt in pellets to make them tastier,
and last longer, and be more stable in the environment. And you can also buy them in
SmartPaks, and even better. And so I think it’s
called SmartSalt Pellets. And that would be the ideal way
to get your horse’s daily salt requirement into him
with no muss, no fuss. DAN: Because even sometimes just
top dressing with loose salts, sometimes it falls to
the bottom of the pan, or the horse maybe
doesn’t like it as much, so it makes it a little
more palatable for them. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. And then a lot of people
are like, well, I’m just going to set out a salt
block– one of those big 50 pounders. But those are made for
cattle’s rough tongues. Now, some horses
like them just fine. But even those horses, you don’t
know how much they’re licking. DAN: If they’re getting
their full requirement. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. And then there’s horses who
are like, “Oh, my tongue. I don’t want to,” so
they don’t lick them, and then they’re not getting
their daily requirement of salt. So I like her idea
of loose salt or top dressing salt in some form, and
SmartSalt Pellets is a great way to do it. DAN: OK. So at least an ounce a
day to get your guy going. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. There seems like there should
be a saying in there somewhere. We’ll work on it. DAN: We’ll work on it
for the next episode. But in the meantime, on
to question number three. And this was submitted by
Kate on the SmartPak blog. So “Every summer, my horse
and other horses at the barn start with slobbers
from red clover. Is there anything that
can help slow down the amount of drooling without
limiting the horse’s turnout?” DR LYDIA GRAY: So
I think I’m going to have some ideas for her. I think the answer might be yes. But first, I want to make sure
that everybody who’s watching is on the same page. So slobbers is the
name that we give to this condition we
see in horses when they eat a type of plant in
the family of the legumes. Legumes– you think of alfalfa. Clovers– I think she
mentioned red clover. There’s white clover,
there’s alsike and then my favorite legume, lespedeza. DAN: Oh, of course. DR LYDIA GRAY: Of course. So these types of
plants, as legumes, when there’s certain
conditions, like high humidity, a fungus can grow on them. And the fungus produces a
microtoxin called slaframine. And so slaframine poisoning is
also referred to as slobbers. Slaframine poisoning
sounds terrible. This is mostly a nuisance. It’s not really a
health threat to horses. It’s a cosmetic thing. So if your horse is in the barn
and you’re riding it every day, it’s annoying because
they can leave big, big puddles of saliva. But if you’re
showing, it’s more– so I can understand– DAN: Not a good look, yeah. DR LYDIA GRAY: It’s
not a good look. So the things that
she can do are things that you do in the pasture. And so she may or may not
have influence over these, but I’ll just read these. And some of these are long-term
and some are short-term, but overseed with
grass, and make sure that you’re planting no more
than about 40% of the legumes. And I think I say this,
too, a lot, every time– talk to your county
extension agent. They know your geographic
area intimately well. They know pasture management. They know weather. They know toxin, toxic plants. They know all that stuff. That’s their job. DAN: Definitely a great
resource to take advantage of. DR LYDIA GRAY: I don’t think we
use them as much as we should. You can learn, as a horse
owner, to check legume or clover leaves for this fungus. And so they’ll look like black
spots or black rings, maybe just brown or gray. And like I said, they appear
in times of high humidity, but really anytime the
pasture is stressed. So a pasture gets stressed
from too much water, but also too little water, so periods of
drought, it’s always stressed. And also overgrazing– if
a pasture is eaten down. That said, one of
the best things you can do to reduce how bad
this problem gets in horses is to keep the pasture mowed
to about no more than three to four inches high
because regrowth tends not to harbor the fungus. So if you keep your pasture low,
you’ll have less of the fungus and less of the slaframine. DAN: Interesting, OK. DR LYDIA GRAY: So
that’s something you can do like right then. The phrase that your county
extension agent may share is fertilize, rest, and rotate. And you want to
fertilize the grass because the clovers
and the alfalfas– they take over if the
grass doesn’t have what it needs to grow more. DAN: So you want the
grass to keep growing, get provided with nutrients– DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah,
otherwise the legumes will tend to take
over, the bullies. But resting the pasture
so it’s not stressed, and one way to rest
it is to rotate. So if you have two pastures,
you can use one and not use one. And that’s good because
you’re letting it grow, letting it even out again. You can mow it. You can remove the manure,
so thinking about parasites. And last resort, then you
have to pull the horses. And I know this was not
what you wanted to do was pull the horses and put
them on dry lot, feed them hay. Now hay, if it’s
made with legumes, can also have slaframine in it. However, like vitamin E
and some other things, slaframine also
degrades through time as the hay is cut and stored. So it will be less
than the living grass. DAN: OK, so those are
definitely some options. Depending if she’s
boarding her horse, you might have a little bit
less control over the pasture. But if nothing else, you can
always do dry lot with hay, if that worst case
comes to worst case. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. And the last thing I would
say is don’t assume that just because your horse
is hypersalivating that it is slobbers. Maybe the first time, unless
you experience this every year and you know your horse does it,
and not every horse will do it. Some are more sensitive
to slaframine. And also, it depends on
your preference for grazing. If you prefer to eat
grass, you’re probably not going to run into this. But if you’re a clover
seeker, then you’re getting a heavier load of it. But have a vet out at
least the first time and make sure that slobbers
is what you’re dealing with and it’s not choke,
which is very serious and could be life-threatening,
that it’s not some sort of trauma
or a dental disease, or there’s other things
your vet can rule out. But really, it’s a chronic, over
time thing, that every day you see it. So that’s one of the
clues that it’s slobbers. But your vet can help you narrow
down, say yep, it’s for sure. Confirm it. DAN: Awesome. Well, hopefully those
tips were helpful for you, and let us know how your
horse does with some of these management tips. So on to question number four. So this is the one
we’ve been waiting for. DR LYDIA GRAY: Dun, dun, dun. DAN: So your new
and exciting news– DR LYDIA GRAY: I’ve
bought a horse. DAN: Finally. Congratulations. I know it’s been a long road. DR LYDIA GRAY: I started in
April, and so, what’s this? May, June, July, August. I don’t even know
what month it is. But five or six months, yeah. But I knew what I wanted. I knew what I didn’t want. And I was patient and I sort
of stuck to my standards. DAN: So tell us a
little bit about him. DR LYDIA GRAY: So he’s
a Dutch Warmblood. He’s two years old. His registered name is Modelo. And but he was born
during the Stanley Cup, so they called him Stanley. DAN: Stan Lee. DR LYDIA GRAY: Well, no,
they called him Stanley. And then I met him
and I said, I think you’re more like Stan Lee,
the Marvel Comics legend, because he’s kind
of an old soul. And last week, I
called him Grandpa Stan because he was telling the
older horses to behave. DAN: You were saying that. You were saying you’d
have to turn him out first because he sets an example
for the older horses. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yep. He’s the best outside
in the pasture. He’s not got the sillies. He’s the best loader. He’s the best in the wash stall. DAN: That’s so lucky
for two years old. DR LYDIA GRAY: He’s a
really good example. Well, the breeder– she
handled him from birth and just did a
fabulous job with him, so my job is not to screw it up. DAN: [LAUGHS] Well,
it sounds good. What are you guys going
to be doing together? What’re your goals? DR LYDIA GRAY: Everything. DAN: Of course. DR LYDIA GRAY: And
his main job is to be a dressage horse,
and hopefully upper levels, because he’s bred to be. His sire and his damesire
are both Grand Prix dressage horses. But he’ll drive. He’ll do some side saddle, some
jumping, working equitation. But he’s a little
on the big side. DAN: He is pretty tall. DR LYDIA GRAY: He’s two years
old and he’s already 16′ 2″. DAN: She sent the
photo, and I was– DR LYDIA GRAY: I
string-tested him, and I’m like, I threw it away
because I didn’t want to know. But he’s going to be a big boy. DAN: Well, we are
excited to hear how you guys do going
forward and you guys start working together. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. DAN: So that does lead us
into question number four, though, which was submitted
by Autumn Softpaw on YouTube. And she wants to know, “Why
are pre-purchase slash adopt vet check so important? What health things do
vets typically search for when doing an
examination of a horse that someone is going to buy? And what happens if the horse
doesn’t pass a vet check?” So you probably have
had a lot of experience with this the last
couple of months. DR LYDIA GRAY: I did. Stan is the 12th
horse I looked at. DAN: 12. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. Which is not a ton, but
I did three pre-purchases along the way. Clearly, there were two that
didn’t “pass” the vet check. And I’m air quoting because
we don’t really talk anymore in terms of passing or failing. It’s more like what the vet
found today that the snapshot– what was identified today,
medical issues and maybe soundness issues,
can I live with them? Can I manage them? Is the horse suitable for
what I want to do with him? So it’s very important that
the veterinarian you choose for your pre-purchase exam– and I recommend you, the
buyer, choose the vet and don’t just go
with the seller’s vet. It’s a bit of a
conflict of interest. There are paperwork and
things you can sign, and conversations you
have to reduce that risk. But because the horse
I bought was local, I was able to use
one of the vets– well, I say one of the vets– that I use for my regular horse. And I know him very well, and I
was able to, on the other ones also, halt the
pre-purchase at any time. As soon as I saw something
that I could not live with, or I knew I couldn’t
manage, or was not going to allow me to go as far
as I wanted to with the horse, I just said, we’re done. So that’s really helpful to both
be there and to work with a vet that you know. DAN: But to your point, I think
being realistic about what your goals are, what
you really want to do, and are you going to be able to
manage whatever the vet happens to find. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. So here’s an example. When we were doing the
pre-purchase on Stan, he’s going over it. And we’ll talk about– I want to make sure we
answer all her questions. But he got to the ears
and he’s looking in, and you know these things
called aural plaques, the little white
lesions on the inside. He saw quite a
few of them and he looks at me horrified, and he
says, “He’s got aural plaques.” And I’m like, “OK. Keep going,” because
that’s a problem that I am willing to deal with. He wasn’t head-shy. You could put halters. He hasn’t had a bridle
on yet, but it’s not going to be a problem. Trust me. He doesn’t care that he has
white lesions in his ear. Now, if we were looking
at a different horse, and you couldn’t
even touch his ear, and you looked at a
distance and it’s like, I think those are
aural plaques, then I maybe would have had
a different reaction. But Stan doesn’t know he has
aural plaques in his ear, and so it’s not a thing. DAN: All right. That’s a great example. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. DAN: So going to kind of more
of her question, what things do vets typically search for? DR LYDIA GRAY: OK. So there’s two parts really
of a general pre-purchase. There’s the standard physical
exam or a general assessment of the horse, and then there’s
this soundness portion of it, unless– there’s a caveat– you’re
buying this horse for breeding, then there’s another section
called a breeding soundness exam. You would skip the soundness
and go into breeding soundness. So for the standard physical
exam, it’s what you think. It’s you look at
the horse overall. You look at his conformation,
his attitude and appearance. And then you go organ
system by organ system. And each vet will have their
own flow and paperwork, because you want to
do it step by step and not miss anything, and do
it in the same order every time. So every vet will have
their own way of doing this. But you’ll do a TPR,
because you want to know if they have a fever, if
their heart rate and rhythm is correct. But you’ll listen to the heart. You’ll listen to the lungs. You assess the skin
for health, and wounds, and lumps and bumps. My vet starts with
the eyes because he has learned if he sees
a cataract in the eyes, many buyers, that stops it. So it’s like, why do the
whole rest of the exam if I find something in this
test that’s going to end it? So he looks there. But you just go over everything
with a fine-tooth comb, and the vet will point out–
they usually have a scribe, like their vet tech, their
assistant will be writing down things and they’ll
be pointing them out as you’re standing there,
and you can talk about them. And then from the
general physical, you would move into the
soundness portion of it. And like for a
two-year-old, there wasn’t a whole lot we could do. We were able to look
at his conformation, evaluate his hooves. We’re looking for symmetry. We’re looking for
conformational defects that could affect his way of going
in the dressage ring and just under saddle. DAN: Like does he
have a club foot, is he long in the fetlock? DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. Are his legs crooked? We could watch him walk, trot,
and canter, sort of free lunge. He kind of lunges,
but not really. DAN: Because he’s two. DR LYDIA GRAY: There’s a lot
just looking at us, like eh? We couldn’t flex him, like
stand there and hold his leg up bent for 30, or 60, or 90
seconds and then trot him out. He’s never done that. He doesn’t know what to do. But a riding horse,
you would do that. You might even go under saddle
and do what you’re going to do, and see how the horse does. So we were able to watch
him move at all three gaits, and palpate him, and
look at his conformation. And then that was about it. Now, the thing we did
do was take radiographs. It was important
to me that he not have any defects in his joints,
any chips, any arthritis that would mean that the final
conclusion on the pre-purchase would say suitable
for trail-riding only, not suitable for
upper-level dressage. DAN: You’re like, that
wouldn’t work for me. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. And that’s what I got
back on the first two. Yeah. And I’m like, well, I don’t
want to just trail-ride. I want to do more
athletic stuff, so this horse has to be capable. On the snapshot that
we’re taking today– remember, they’re
not a crystal ball — but there’s nothing
that we saw today that would preclude him from
going as high as we want to go. DAN: And that’s good for
you, though, because a lot of times– myself, I know– when
you meet a horse, you fall in love with him. You’re like, they’re so cute. He’s so pretty, so nice. And then you find
out, well, he’s not actually built to do
anything that you want to do. And it’s really hard
to be like, OK– DR LYDIA GRAY: Objective. DAN: Yeah. DR LYDIA GRAY: Well, and
that’s why– people ask me, why don’t you just do your
own pre-purchase exam? You’re a vet. For exactly the reason
that Dan mentioned. I’m not objective. Once I met this horse, it
was like stars in my eyes. It’s very hard to see when
you have stars in your eyes. So I had somebody out who I knew
and I trusted to be objective. And he knew I’d be upset
if he found anything. I mean, this poor guy–
no pressure on him. But I’m like, good
luck on the exam. Don’t find anything. DAN: You’re like, no pressure,
and I already love him. I already bought
a stall nameplate. DR LYDIA GRAY: By the
way, I already love him. I know. So no, he did it. He did a great job. My vet’s great. DAN: Awesome. Well, we’ve actually
done a lot of videos in the past about
new horse ownership, so we’ll link those in the
description for you, as well. And I believe one of your good
friends has done some videos for us about
pre-purchase exams . DR LYDIA GRAY:
Excellent pre-purchase, and I want to point out that
I wrote an article that’s in the Horse Health Library
about pre-purchase exams that is very helpful. So if we didn’t answer
your question today because we got
sidetracked on Stan, you can find it in Dr.
Kaneps video or my article. DAN: Awesome. We’ll put those links
the description for you. But good luck, Autumn, if
you are horse shopping. Let us know how that goes. So on to our last question,
question number five. This was submitted by Jennifer
on the Ask the Vet form at
ktheVetQuestions. And Jennifer would
like to know, “I’d like to add alfalfa
cubes to my horse’s diet, though I’m concerned over
a blister beetle toxicity. Are hay cubes just as likely
to carry blister beetles? And if so, how can you tell
which are the good ones to buy? Thanks.” DR LYDIA GRAY: It’s
a great question, and I feel maybe naive
because obviously, I’m aware of blister beetles–
like, oh, alfalfa hay– and just never worried about
buying cubes, or pellets, or any other version of them. I just assumed they
were quality made. DAN: I was thinking
the same thing when I read this question earlier. DR LYDIA GRAY: I’m like, oops. DAN: I was like, oopsies. DR LYDIA GRAY: So this
answer is for all of us. And so blister beetles– I’m from Illinois, and
we’re in Massachusetts now. And I don’t know what
you think about them, but I always thought they
were a Western state problem and I didn’t have
to worry about them. Turns out, blister beetles
are found throughout the US, and they’re more common
in the East and the South. DAN: Whoops. DR LYDIA GRAY: Whoops. We would have failed the course. DAN: Thank you for asking
this question, Jennifer. DR LYDIA GRAY: There’s a couple
different species of blister beetles, and the one
that is most toxic is the three-striped
blister beetle. DAN: That does sound
pretty intense. DR LYDIA GRAY: It
does, and but also easy to recognize
him, because one of the things we’ll talk about
is you should inspect your hay. Not the hay cubes and
pellets, but actual just hay. So they produce a substance
called cantharidin. That’s the toxic agent, and
it’s quite toxic to horses and other species,
but horses seem to be particularly
sensitive to it. And blister beetle–
the way it gets his name is it can blister
the tongue, the mouth. One of the first signs is
horses that don’t normally play in their water,
because you can imagine it makes her mouth feel better. If you’ve got blisters
and ulcers and things, that they dunk their
head in the water, and they aggressively
play and splash. DAN: You’re like,
something’s going on there. DR LYDIA GRAY: That’s
right, so that’s one of those reasons why you
have to know your own horse. But it really creates that same
blistering and ulcer effect throughout the GI system. So bloody diarrhea
is another sign. Colic is probably the
first sign we see. And it does this same damage to
the renal or the urinary tract to the kidneys. Yeah, so you could
see bloody urine. It can kill a horse. If you get a large amount
of blister beetles, or the cantharidin,
the toxic principle, can kill a horse in as
little as like six hours. DAN: Six hours? DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. Yeah, so if you’re in an area
and you’re feeding alfalfa, you have to recognize the signs
and you have to call your vet. Now, because colic is
one of the first signs, and you’re calling your
vet about colic anyway, as long as you follow that
principle, you’re probably OK. So we talked about the signs. Things an alfalfa
buyer should do is know the supplier, so don’t
just buy alfalfa from anybody because it’s got to be quality. Ask what precautions
they took to avoid the presence of blister
beetles in the forage. And for example, I learned that
if you harvest your alfalfa before it blooms, it will
be less likely to have blister beetles in them. If your first cutting– you can get it done,
weather-permitting, before May, they tend to emerge from
the ground in June, July, and August. So if you get your hay before
June and after August– DAN: You have a
better likelihood. DR LYDIA GRAY: Exactly. Not, I mean, zero, but better. Yeah. So we talked about
this earlier– inspect the hay before
feeding, and you look at three-striped
blister beetle. That is a little
bit hard to say. And then know the signs of
blister beetle poisoning. Now, I did find one company that
produces alfalfa hay nationwide and has a pretty extensive
quality program for ensuring that their cubes
and pellets don’t have blister beetles in them. Here’s one more scary factoid. The cantharidin is not just
in the beetle themselves, but it can be
released into the hay. And so even if you inspect
and there’s no blister beetle bodies, there can still
be the cantharidin. DAN: Aye, aye, aye. DR LYDIA GRAY: I know. So anyway, this is
what the company says. DAN: I was hoping you
were going to give me good news on that one. DR LYDIA GRAY: And I’m
going to go ahead and read their name because I’m
reading this verbatim from their website,
and I think that they are doing such a good job,
they deserve the credit. DAN: Yeah, absolutely. DR LYDIA GRAY: All right. “From harvesting and
manufacturing perspectives, Standlee–” you’ve
heard of Standlee. We sell the Apple Berry Cookies. DAN: Yeah, absolutely. DR LYDIA GRAY: “Has
well-established QA processes at their farms, production
facilities, and distribution centers to detect and
eliminate insect infestations. Furthermore, Standlee’s
quality assurance personnel continue to be
diligent and regularly contact the University of
Idaho extension offices in each county near
their forward sources.” So see even they contact
their county extension office. And then they
harvest their forage “before abundant blooms exist
to provide high quality, high protein products
and cut down on pests. Also–” and I thought this
part was really cool– “Standlee farm personnel scout
fields seven to eight days prior to harvest to ensure
that pests of all kinds are not present.” These three-striped
blister beetles tend to– if there’s one adult here
and there in the hay, it might not be so bad. But this insect swarms. And so if a swarm gets
trapped into the alfalfa when it’s harvested, when
it’s cut, that’s when you run into problems. So by walking the fields
right before they harvest– DAN: To make sure. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. I thought that was a
really good practice. So that’s my answer
to, how can you make sure that the product
you’re feeding is quality. DAN: And to your point,
Standlee does do a great job. We do sell some of their
treats and things like that. DR LYDIA GRAY: Mhm. So if you stick with a
reputable, recognized brand, then I think you’re
in great shape. DAN: Well, perfect. Hopefully that
helps you out there. And that is it for
this month’s episode. So thank you guys so much for
submitting your questions, and make sure to
keep asking questions so we have something to
answer in our next episode. You can ask your questions on
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blog, and our form at Just make sure to
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make sure to reach out to us at
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make sure to subscribe, and have a great ride.

5 Replies to “Ask the Vet – Blister beetles, clover slobbers, mineral oil, and more! – September 2019”

  1. I’m not sure if you’ve addressed this before, but if not, what are the nutritional differences between fresh hay and hay pellets/cubes? Does the form hay is consumed in affect it’s digestion/nutrient absorption? i’m suddenly very scared of fresh alfalfa since i live in the south east, so i’d love to know, haha!

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