Bryony, (genus Bryonia), genus of about 12 species of climbing herbaceous vines in the gourd family (Cucurbitaceae). It can be difficult for your veterinarian to determine the cause of the poisoning since there are numerous toxins that could cause similar symptoms. In these cases, removing as much of the plant as possible, and returning to the area to remove new growth may be the best preventative possible. The bryony plant, when ingested, will act as an intense laxative. It thrives in temperate climates and is found in abundance in the Northwest states of the United States. Coming into contact with the bryony plant will not cause illness unless it is ingested. The plant is described as having an unpleasant odor, so horses will generally not eat from the plant as a first option, but may do so if left without other suitable forms of feed. While the whole plant is toxic to a horse (i.e., leaves, berries, vines), the berries and roots of the plant hold the most poison. If the cause of the toxicity can be traced to a plant, the use of active charcoal therapy can be used to some effectiveness in neutralizing the toxin and promoting its expulsion from the body. Bryonia dioica, or bryony, is an invasive plant that is known to climb buildings, trellises, fences, barns, stables, homes, trees, and even over other hedges. Be sure to convey to your veterinarian what you have seen your horse eat and if you are unsure of the identification, show your veterinarian the plant. Sometimes paraffin treatment has been proven to be useful in some instances of poisoning as well. Intense diarrhea, urinary complications, breathing issues, and lethargy are just a few of the indications you may see, alerting you that your horse is ill. Because this plant thrives well in many areas, exposure can easily occur if your horse decides to sample the bryony plant. Both varieties are very toxic and cause severe intestinal complications. While both plants’ berries begin green, the white bryony's berries ripen to black colored berries, while the black byrony's berries ripen to red colored berries. The entire plant is toxic to horses, but the berries and the roots are the most poisonous. Bryonies are occasionally grown in gardens, sometimes accidentally, sometimes deliberately so. Your veterinarian will want to make a follow up visit to ensure that there are no long-term effects from the toxin, additional testing may be required to ensure that a full recovery has been made. Cucurbitacin glycosides are primarily responsible for the plants' bitterness and emetic effects. There is no specific course of treatment for poisoning by the bryony plant. These tests will not tell the veterinarian exactly what toxin has been ingested, but will give clues to the damage that is occurring in the horse so that proper medical action may be taken.
Knowing what the bryony's leaves and berries look like, and ensuring that your horse does not have access to it, is critical to protecting your horse from the plant's toxic effects.
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