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Horse Health – Plants Your Horse Must Avoid

June 17th, 2012

Horse Health – Plants Your Horse Must Avoid

A Healthy Horse

You can find the first part of the article here.

All of the above are, among others, the most common symptoms of ground ivy poisoning.

This creeping plant, also known as creeping charlie can be fatal, but for this to happen, large amounts must be ingested. The largest danger is from ivy that is baled into hay.


Buttercups are frequently found on horse pastures and contain a compound called protoanemonin, which is a powerful irritant, and can cause inflammation, or ulceration of the mouth, and sometimes, in extreme cases, colic.


lesions of the mouth


inflamation of the mouth

colic (rare, only in extreme cases)


Tannins, otherwise known as tannic acid, are found in oak leaves, and are poisonous, though only mildly so. They have to eat a large amount for it to be dangerous, but it is addictive, so they can actively seek it out .

It causes kidney damage in large doses. Prevention includes fencing off oak trees, especially in spring and autum when the leaves and acorns respectively, are high in tannin.


constipation and diarrhea

lack of appetite

staring/ dull coat


blood filled diarrhea and/ or urine

Deadly nightshade

The whole plant, from the roots to the berries contains toxins, that are not normally fatal unless taken in high doses.

Found in woodland, clearings and hedgerows, the symptoms for the poisoning from this plant include

innability to stand

dilated pupils


This contains an enzyme known as thiaminase, which breaks thiamine (vitamin B1 ) down, so the horse essentially suffers from a thiamine deficiency. If you are aware that your horse has been consuming bracken, but is not showing symptoms, try feeding a vitamin supplement that is high in Vitamin B1.

Bracken needs to be consumed regularly for weeks, even months, before clinical signs show. A few days after eating sufficient bracken to cause damage, the horse loses weight, but shows little other symptoms. Then gait abnormalities manifest themselves in place of the normal paces, and this then increases to staggers. Muscle tremors and weakness will follow this, until a high heart rate, and temperature, then inability to move. From the time that the proper, clinical signs start to show, to death is usually 2-10 days depending on the intensity of the poison and its effect on the horse.

If you suspect your horse has been poisoned, call your vet.

While there are many other plants I could have listed here it is not possible to list them all so I just want to say;

”And the moral of the story is if you dont know whether a plant is toxic to equines or not, dont take chances! Feed, or give acess to only those that you are certain about, and keep him away from all the others!”

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