In Brazil, coffee (Coffea arabica) husks are reused in several ways due to their abundance, including as stall bedding. However, field veterinarians have reported that horses become intoxicated after ingesting the coffee husks that are used as bedding. The objective of this study was to evaluate whether coffee husk consumption causes intoxication in horses.
Six horses fed coast cross hay ad libitum were given access to coffee husks and excitability, restlessness, involuntary muscle tremors, chewing movements and constant tremors of the lips and tongue, excessive sweating and increased respiration and heart rates were the most evident clinical signs. Caffeine levels were measured in the plasma and urine of these horses on two occasions: immediately before the coffee husks were made available to the animals (T0) and at the time of the clinical presentation of intoxication, 56 h after the animals started to consume the husks (T56). The concentrations of caffeine in the plasma (p < 0.001) and urine (p < 0.001) of these animals were significantly greater at T56 than at T0.
It was concluded that consumption of coffee husks was toxic to horses due to the high levels of caffeine present in their composition. Therefore, coffee husks pose a risk when used as bedding or as feed for horses.