Last Updated on February 19, 2022 by Allison Price
Selenium, a trace mineral, is vital for cell function in the human body. Horses are not prone to acute toxicities or death from large amounts of selenium. It is more common to find the reverse situation. There are many areas in the United States that have selenium-deficient forage, including the Pacific Northwest, Great Lakes and the Eastern Seaboard, which includes Florida. White muscle disease is a clinical condition that results in selenium (and Vitamin E!) deficiency. White muscle disease, a degenerative condition that affects the skeletal and cardiac muscles in foals and farm animals, is known as white muscle disease. Young, fast-growing animals that were raised by dams with low levels of vitamin E and selenium are most likely to be affected. White muscle disease is characterized by a rapid heart rate, slowed breathing, inability to swallow, and discolored urine (red-brown tinged). To diagnose selenium deficiency, laboratory tests can be performed.
Selenium toxicemia is more common in chronic conditions. Some indicator plants, such as locoweed, may show high levels of soil-based selenium. They are more common in New Mexico and Colorado. Florida, depending on its location, is often considered to be either selenium deficient (or adequate) soil. Selenium toxicemia can lead to hair loss, cracked hooves, hair loss, excessive salivation and respiratory problems. A severe overdose can result in death. The signs of severe selenium overdose include blindness, a staggering gait, labored breathing and respiratory failure. The levels of selenium in horses can either be determined using whole blood, serum, or plasma. For more information about testing for selenium, please consult your veterinarian.
The FDA has established a daily recommended amount of selenium that horses should consume at 3 mg per day. Selenium is found in many different kinds of supplements and feeds. It is important to carefully read labels to determine how much selenium your horse is receiving. It is important to know where your hay came from, and you should test it regularly. When making any changes to your horse’s diet, consult your veterinarian or nutritionist often.