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Foods That Are Toxic For Horses

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I've heard that peanuts, avocados, and cherries are toxic for horses. When I mentioned this at the barn, no one else knew. So I thought it'd be a good idea to compile a list of foods that are toxic (we know the plants, trees, etc) or maybe just not easily digested for horses.

I know about things like fruits with pits, very acidic foods, and too much of any food that can expand in the stomach.

Anything else I should know about? I'm a worry wort when it comes to my horse so I stick with carrots, green peppermints and store bought horse treats :P but I would like to know just in case!

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EQUUS Pop Quiz: Toxic Groceries

Do you know what fruits and veggies to keep from your horses? Take this Pop Quiz to find out.

From the Editors of EQUUS

You're probably well aware of the dangers ornamental yews and red maple trees pose to your horse, but some common fruits and vegetables can also be toxic. If your horse were to go foraging in your garden, which of the following produce has the potential to poison him?






All of the above!

Each of these plants, if eaten in sufficient quantities, is potentially toxic to horses. The leaves and fruit of the Guatemalan avocado (not the smooth-skinned Mexican variety) contain a still-unidentified toxin that can cause congestive heart failure and swelling of the lips, mouth, head and neck leading to respiratory distress.

Eaters of large quantities of onions might develop Heinz body anemia, the same disorder that affects--and usually kills--horses who feed on red maple leaves. Ingestion of a few wild onions along with pasture grass won't produce this fatal anemia.

The leaves of potato and tomato plants contain alkaloids that cause central-nervous-system stimulation followed by depression, weakness and sometimes colic and diarrhea. A ripe potato or tomato won?t poison a horse, but green, rotting or sprouted fruits and roots contain those dangerous alkaloids.

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I've read that cherries are, after they have been hit by frost. The leaves of the cherry tree, also. This includes pincherries and chokecherries that grow wild. I didn't know that cherries were, without being hit by frost.

Some other toxic plants:

red maple leaves after they wilt

black walnut


yellow start thistle

bracken fern

Edited by Wild Rose

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Black locust Robinia pseudoacacia

Black walnut Juglans nigra

Chinese tallow tree Sapium sebiferum (mildly toxic)

Chokecherry Prunus spp.

Golden chain tree Laburnum anagyroides

Horse chestnut, buckeye Aesculus spp

Kentucky coffee tree Gymnocladus dioica

Oak Quercus spp.

Persimmon Diospyros virginiana

Red Maple Acer rubrum

Russian Olive Elaeagnus angustifolia


Angels Trumpet Brugmansia spp.

Black laurel Leucothoe davisiae

Boxwood Buxus sempervirens

Burning bush Euonymus atropurpurens

Day or night Jasmine Cestrum diurnum, C. nocturnum

Hydrangea Hydrangea spp.

Japanese Pieris Pieris japonica

Lantana Lantana camara

Laurel Kalmia spp.

Mesquite Prosopis veluntina

Oleander Nerium oleander

Privet Ligustrum spp.

Rhododendron (azalea) Rhododendron spp.

Yellow oleander Thevetia spp.

Yew Taxus spp.


Carolina jessamine Gelsemium sempervirens

Virginia creeper Parthenocissus quinquefolia

Perennial Plants

Castor bean Ricinus communis

Comfrey Symphytum spp.

Crown vetch Coronilla spp.

Fox glove Digitalis purpurea

Hairy vetch Vicia villosa

Larkspur Delphinium spp.

Lupines Lupinus spp.

Monkshood Aconitum spp.

Also adding ThornApple, or Datura. We have this all over the place here.

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My horses will be in Montana for a month this summer. They will be among Ponderosa Pine, Douglas fir and Western Larch. Also will have Canadian Thistle, Oregon Grape, and Knap Weed in the pasture. I know that all the old Montana Cowboys don't worry about these but my horses have been very pampered here in central Minnesota.

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Yes! Wild buttercups, jimson weed, SOME grasses are also toxic.

I studied this to the point of making myself physically ill some years back. So ... I ID'd the plants I had in my pasture and marched to the local co~op to learn what would kill them and buy it ALL!!!

The guy shrugged his shoulders and said 'Here's the thing that should keep you from jumping off a cliff. Horses as a general rule won't eat any of that stuff if they are well fed. Your horses are well fed. Go home. It's over.'

I did. I fight the buttercups ... when I have the resources.

I won't even put this kind of stuff in my mind. My tomato patch borders a paddock fence and I use pipe cleaners to tie them up on their stakes with. In the fall, I hang the PCs in the mesh fence. As SOON as I thought, boy ... I hope that goofy filly in that paddock doesn't come eat these pipe cleaners, THERE she was!

I figure I conjured her.

Out of MY mind ..... out of her mind.

Please don't tell me any differently.

Fingers in ears ....... LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA

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I'm in the same boat quarterflash! I just discovered last year that buttercups are toxic. But ya know what, I've had horses in pastures with buttercups for years and never had a reaction and certainly not a death. From what I read, they may taste them once, but they are almost like biting a hot pepper, so they are very unlikely to ever eat enough to cause a problem unless they are seriously starving. It requires a large ingestion for them to cause serious illness.

My foal was turned out in a pasture which obviously had a huge amount of buttercups before I knew they were toxic. This series of pictures was what prompted someone on HC to tell me. They were right. However, all of my horses were out in that pasture regularly and I never had a problem. Not even with the foal. He did taste them, but only once!!



I'll do my best to get rid of them. I would certainly rather have grass anyway. However, turn me in if you want, but I will continue to use that pasture. I'm sure I'll never forgive myself if something happens to one of my horses, but history shows that that isn't likely.

Edited by ExtraHannah

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My vet told me the the buttercup roots are poisonous, not the flowers or leaves. He said only a very hungry horse on poor pasture would pull the whole plants up to eat them.

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