Signs & symptoms of liver problems in horses

Written by chelsea hoffman Google
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Signs & symptoms of liver problems in horses
A horse and her foal (horses image by Mat Hayward from

Whether you're an inexperienced owner or an expert enthusiast, keeping your horse happy and healthy proves to be an ongoing learning experience. Horses fall victim to a variety of life-threatening conditions, with symptoms that vary from unnoticeable to extremely painful. Liver problems appear to commonly ail equines, and are caused by a variety of factors such as the consumption of toxic plants, infection and cancerous tumours. Knowing the symptoms and signs of liver problems associated with horses makes it possible to aid in the diagnosis and treatment.

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Abdominal Pain

Horses who experience liver disease and failure often react in pain when pressure is applied to the abdomen. Sometimes swelling in the abdomen presents itself with the pain, but this symptom also points to other conditions such as colic or a hernia. If abdominal pain is present in your horse, observe its behaviour for any other signs or symptoms.


A horse that often acts high-spirited and social, but suddenly seems listless and unwilling to be active, displays signs of depression. Depression in horses indicates a variety of conditions, much like malaise as a symptom in human illnesses. Depending on the symptoms that accommodate your horse's depression, it could either indicate liver problems, colic or an underlying emotional issue.


Diarrhoea presents itself as a problem in any case as it is indicative that the horse's digestive system is under some kind of stress whether it be due to low quality food, nerves or the liver improperly digesting foods. In conjunction with other discerning symptoms, diarrhoea can indicate liver problems in your horse.


Visible jaundice, or yellowing, of the horses eyes indicate a definite problem with the liver. The whites of a horse's eyes are supposed to be bright white; contacting a vet immediately upon discovering jaundice as a symptom can help determine the diagnosis and potential treatment of your horse's liver disease or ailment.

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