Plants: An Unexpected Danger

August 26, 2018

 

Danger! Plants. Weeds. Trees. Grass. Ugh. 

 

You'd think you'd be safe with horses- a species that is a herbivore right? 

 

Think again. 

 

There are several types of vegetative growth that can harm horses. This includes anything from acorns to horseweed (surprise, not for horses!) 

  • Our first poisonous plant is Nightshade

    • This plant loves to thrive where it's dry and sandy. 

    • It's poisonous to animals and humans. 

    • In horses, it causes disorientation, dilated pupils, sometimes colic-like-symptoms, and in the worst cases, death. 

 

  •  Our second "plant", is the Red Maple Tree.  

    • Sadly this beautiful tree is no good for horses. Its leaves contain a toxin that is very, very harmful to horses. 

    • It does not take a lot of leaves from a Red Maple to harm a horse. 

    • The signs: refusal to eat anything, being extremely lethargic, really dark urine (almost black!), and increased respiratory rates. 

 

  • Our third plant is Milkweed

    • I would have never known Milkweed was a danger to horses if I hadn't wrote this blog! We have Milkweed everywhere on my farm, so this was a shocker. 

    • Horses will avoid milkweed unless they are starving. Sometimes, it can be baled into hay, so make sure you watch out for the leaves or the pods. 

    • All parts of the milkweed plant are toxic to horses. Leaves, stems, pods, etc. 

    • Symptoms include disorientation (like a lot of other plants), muscle spasms, a change in pulse (usually to weak and very fast), and paralysis of the respiratory system.  

    • Milkweed is typically not fatal to horses.

  • The fourth plant on our list is Foxglove

    • Foxglove is not very "yummy" to horses in its live state, but dried up and not noticed in hay can cause an issue.

    • This is a very dangerous plant to horses. Little to none can cause issues, and even death. 

    • When a horse ingests foxglove, its pupils will become contracted, it will have a difficult time breathing, and after a few hours, it may die. 

 

  • Our fifth plant on this list today is Ragwort

    • This is a bad plant for horses. It's very, very common in the U.S. especially on the outsides of pastures, and roadsides. It really thrives where there are no other "plants", so be careful with dry lots!

    • Most horses will steer clear of this plant when it is in its "live state", but bundled up in hay, the horse may ingest it. 

    • It takes very little of ragwort to harm a horse. Any ingested ragwort will harm the horse, and this is not reversible. Any damage done will not go away years down the line. 

    • Ragwort is fatal if eaten in "larger" doses, but in "smaller" doses, it can cause liver problems or in a long term exposure, liver failure. 

Several other poisonous plants include buttercups, yew, privet, ferns, hemlock, horseweed, acorns, locoweed, etc. There are a lot of them out there, so make sure you do your research!

 

If you fear your horse has eaten any of the above in any amount, do not be afraid to call your veterinarian! It really is better to be safe than sorry! 

If you want to know more, check out the following websites for more information! 

 

https://equusmagazine.com/management/10-most-poisonous-plants-for-horses-8208

 

https://www.thesprucepets.com/plants-toxic-to-horses-4121978

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_plants_poisonous_to_equines

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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