Liver Detox?


The liver’s main functions are detoxification and to filter pathogens from the bloodstream.  From time to time, the liver is overwhelmed, resulting in elevated liver enzymes and/or liver failure. This letter reviews some of the situations that affect the liver.

Possible causes of liver challenges:

Toxins: The liver detoxifies consumed substances to minimize the damage to other organ systems.

Toxic minerals, such as arsenic are present in the soils. The horse eats the plant that may have dirt on it, thus eating the toxic minerals. Excess iron is also sequestered in the liver, as well as other tissues.

Toxic plants. From time to time, horses will also consume plants that are toxic. Examples of this are mugwort, ragwort, switch grass, and Klein grass. Other toxic plants include oleander and avocado leaves. Additionally, plants may also contain mycotoxins, even if mold is not visually present. The liver helps protect the body from the substances in the plant, as well as the molds that may be present on the plant.

Drug-induced liver damage.
Since the liver detoxifies consumed substances, it also detoxifies drugs. Common causes of drug induced elevated liver enzymes include phenylbutazone and acetaminophen.


Infections are another common cause of elevated liver enzymes. Common infections include equine herpesvirus, large strongyles, ascarids, or rhodococcus. Veterinary care is important to determine the cause of the elevated liver enzymes, as well as the treatment.

Important info regarding liver challenges.

Liver failure may be seen with very high liver enzyme values. Moderate increases in liver enzyme values may not be associated with clinical pathology. Jaundice is a serious medical condition, with veterinary care being prudent. The symptoms of jaundice is yellowing of the mucus membranes and the whites of the eyes.

Treatment for elevated liver enzymes:

Veterinary care: First and foremost, it’s important to identify and treat the underlying cause of the elevated liver enzymes. Your veterinarian can diagnose and treat the underlying disease or cause.

 Things you can do to help your horse’s liver status:

Minimize toxins when possible

Feed a supplement, such as Integral A+, which helps bind mycotoxins in feeds

Minimize the use of phenylbutazone and/or acetaminophen

Be sure that your horse is eating regularly

Regularly do fecal counts, and treat for worms when necessary

Add milk thistle to nutritionally support liver function. Use a product that has a known amount of silymarin, the active ingredient in milk thistle, such as My Best Horse Milk Thistle – 63S.

The well-being or our horse is dependent on a healthy liver.

Disclaimer: Statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition.

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