Assateague Horse Died After Eating Dog Food - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Assateague Horse Died After Eating Dog Food

Posted: 07/24/2017 15:45:00 -04:00 Updated:
A photo of the mare that died after eating dog food at Assateague Island National Seashore. (Photo credit: L. Davis/Assateague Island National Seashore) A photo of the mare that died after eating dog food at Assateague Island National Seashore. (Photo credit: L. Davis/Assateague Island National Seashore)

BERLIN, Md.- Officials say a wild horse was found dead after eating a large amount of dog food at Assateague Island National Seashore.

The National Park Service said that on Thursday, July 20,  the body of N2BHS-AI (Chama Wingapo), a 7-year old mare, was found in a campground. There were no visible external injuries. Further investigation revealed that she had ingested large quantities of dog food on Monday, July 17.

Following dissection, it was determined that the dog food had caused an impaction (a blockage) and resulting rupture of the intestine, which officials said caused the mare’s death. 

Officials said most dog food contains corn, soybean, and animal products with a very high carbohydrate, protein and fat content. This recipe is too rich, and in large amounts is deadly for an Assateague wild horse whose natural forage consists of low nutrient, high fiber saltmarsh and beach grasses, according to officials. 

"Sadly, this incident demonstrates that 'a fed horse is a dead horse,'" the NPS said in a statement.

While the dog food may not have been given directly to the horse, officials said the dog food was not properly stored away from the horses and other wildlife. All food, including your pet’s food, must be properly stored. This incident could have been prevented by simply storing pet food in a vehicle, officials said. 

The NPS offered the following tips for visitors:

• Horses can open snap-on lids and latches. Coolers and containers “stored” under picnic tables are not secure from horses and wildlife. Secure all coolers with a nylon strap to prevent wildlife from opening.
• Secure all tote or beach bags with a zippered closure. Horses can easily access open totes and bags.
• Store all unattended food in your vehicle.
• Store all pet food in your vehicle. Do not leave your pet’s food and water bowls unattended. Horses, like your pets, are opportunists and will take advantage of a free meal. 
• Keep food stored if horses are in your immediate vicinity. Wait until they have moved on before beginning your meal. 
• Dispose of your trash immediately in dumpsters. The smell from food wrappers will attract horses and other wildlife, and if ingested could cause death.

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