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Toxic Myopathies in Horses

By

Stephanie J. Valberg

, DVM, PhD, DACVIM, ACVSMR, McPhail Equine Performance Center, Michigan State University

Last full review/revision Feb 2014 | Content last modified Feb 2014

Ionophores

Ionophores are commonly added to ruminant feeds for their growth promotion and coccidiostat properties. Horses, however, are 10 times more sensitive to the toxic effects of ionophores in feed than cattle. When equine feeds are inadvertently contaminated with ionophores or horses eat cattle feed, some animals may die acutely with colic-like signs, myoglobinuria, hypokalemia, cardiac arrhythmia, and tachypnea. Cardiomyopathy is the most common chronic sequela.

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In all animals, the motor unit of skeletal muscle consists of the motor neuron, the neuromuscular junction, and muscle fibers. Muscle dysfunction—such as ataxia, paresis, or paralysis—most commonly originates in which of the following locations?
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