The Effects of Artificial Fluoridation of Water (AFW) on Horses

Ted S Stashak DVM, MS, Diplomate ACVS

  • Some concern has recently been voiced by horse owners regarding the fact that the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors is considering adding fluoride (F) to our water supply, and the effect this may have on horses in the county. To become better informed about the possible negative effects of AFW on horses, a literature search over the past 30 years was done. Additionally an internal medicine specialist and toxicologist at UCD, and a pathologist specializing in bone pathology at Colorado State University were consulted. The following is a summary of the findings from these sources.
  • Summary: In 1974 the US National Academy of Sciences established a dry weight dietary fluoride tolerance of 60 ppm F for horses. Since then two reports (2006 and 2008) identifying chronic fluorosis in a separate groups of horses, in Pagosa Springs CO and Hitchcock TX, drinking AFW at a concentration <1.3 ppm F, have been published. Both articles describe a long period of exposure to AFW, without contamination from other F sources, and classical signs and laboratory evidence of F toxicity. No soil or water testing or assays for other F sources was reported in either study. Peer-reviewed literature in scientific journals, to date, showed no published reports documenting fluorosis in horses due to ingestion of fluoridated public water alone.
  • Discussion: The 2006 and 2008 reports were published in a non-peer reviewed journal and are missing important information necessary to confirm that AFW alone was the cause for the signs of chronic fluorosis in these horses. Fluoride being one of the most common elements in the environment is found in soil, rock, water, air and plants. No soil, water or feed testing was reported in these articles. While the horse’s symptoms improved following discontinuation of drinking the AFW; the authors did not rule out the exposure to other sources of F (e.g. use of fluoride-containing pesticides, fluoride-containing rodenticides, insecticides, and other chemicals etc.), which when added to the ppm in the AFW could have resulted in toxic levels 
  •  Conclusions: Evidence to date indicates that F concentrations allowable in US public water systems are well tolerated by horses and do not cause fluorosis. Supporting this, is a fact that many horses nationwide drink AFW as their major source of water and fluorosis is avery rarely reported condition. For more information fluorosis in horses the reader is referred to the following

Disaster Preparedness~Recommended First Aid Kit

Disaster Preparedness:
Items recommended for a wound care first aid kit and sources.

Ted Stashak DVM, MS, Diplomate ACVS, Emeritus Professor Surgery

  1. 1)  Wound preparation and cleansing

    1. Non-sterile (clean) 4”x4” gauze sponges – Drug store.

      1. Moisten with water and place in the wound to protect it prior to clipping the hair. Can be used to clean debris from the wound.

      2. Place 20 in a plastic sandwich bag to keep them clean.

    2. Scissors – Mayo to clip hair from wound edges – Feed or Drug or Hardware stores

    3. Vetricyn VM Plus S olution – wound irrigation (cleansing) and antimicrobial effect – your veterinarian

  2. 2)  Topical antibiotics and antimicrobials

    1. Triple antibiotic (Neospori) - drug or feed store

    2. Silver Sulfadiazine (Silvaden). Veterinarian. Use for superficial + deep burns

    3. Betadin antiseptic ointment – Drug or Feed store

    4. Vetericyn VF Plus H ydrogel or contaminated wounds that cannot be bandaged. Spray on – your Veterinarian

  3. 3)  Wound dressings 

Telfa AM - clean wounds. Drug Store, Veterinary supply or Veterinarian. Kerlix AMDTM gauze sponges - contaminated wounds. Drug Store, Veterinary supply or Veterinarian.

AluSpra Aerosol Bandage. Spray on clean wounds that cannot be bandaged. Veterinary supply store or Veterinarian.

4) Bandaging material

  1. Bandage scissors – Feed or Drug store or internet.

  2. Cotton bandage wraps – CombiRol or RediRol – Feed store or internet

  3. Conforming gauze rolls – Feed store or internet

  4. Self adherent bandage (e.g. Vetra or SECURWraM r  ElastianM); – Feed store or internet. To secure and cover the cotton bandage

  5. Elastico – Feed store or internet. To attach bandage, top and bottom, of bandage to the hair 


Health Update

Vancouver’s southland riding club, closed after strangles was detected in a rescue horse

CBC News British Columbia, March 16th, 2016. 

A prestigious South Vancouver riding club is closing immediately after a newly arrived rescue horse tested positive for the highly contagious equine disease known as strangles. "During this time measures will be taken to decontaminate and sanitize the property," said spokesperson Bronwyn Wilkinson in an email. "The goal is to ensure the grounds are safe and ready to open as soon as possible. "The strangles bacteria — streptococcus equi — was recently detected in a nasal sample of a horse named Valentine who arrived at the club approximately two weeks ago after being rescued from an Alberta meat pen. "Valentine was vet checked in Alberta before coming to Southlands and showed no signs of strangles," Wilkinson said. The upper respiratory tract disease causes high fever and swelling around the jaw and neck which can restrict breathing. Strangles isn't transferable to humans, and isn't usually fatal, but it can make horses seriously ill.

Livestock Board quarantines facility following case of equine disease

Equine Piroplasmosis (EP) affects only horses; unrelated to recent EHV-1 outbreak


A private racehorse training facility in southern New Mexico is under quarantine after a single horse there was confirmed to have a parasitic disease. The New Mexico Livestock Board imposed the quarantine --no horses in, no horses out -- at Jovi Training Stables late Friday after one horse there was confirmed to have EP. EP is a blood borne disease transmitted by ticks, or “mechanically via improperly sanitized syringes and the like”. Mild forms of EP can appear as weakness and lack of appetite. More severe signs include fever, anemia, weight loss, swelling of the limbs, and labored breathing. Death may occur in some cases. Humans cannot get EP. The disease is also unrelated to equine herpesvirus (EHV-1), which recently affected Jovi Training Facilities and other tracks and training facilities in the area.