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 5 Well-Known Plants that Could Kill Your Horse

With some plants being poisonous to horses, and potentially fatal, it is essential that you know which plants could cause harm to your horse. By knowing the plants that are poisonous to your horse, you can help keep your horse safe by being aware of the place they grow, recognising the plants, and keeping your horse away from them. Here are 5 of the most well-known plants that could kill your horse.

1. Ragwort and Horses

This plant is instantly recognisable for its star-shaped yellow flowers. Unfortunately, the deadly ragwort plant is a recognisable and common presence in British meadows.

And it is deadly to horses.

Once a horse eats ragwort it will start exhibiting signs of poisoning, such as rapid weight loss, despite the horse eating normally. If ragwort poisoning is discovered in time, the symptoms can be treated with steroids. However, if ragwort poisoning is not discovered in time your horse may go blind and eventually collapse completely.

How to Avoid Ragwort Poisoning

The most important thing you can do to avoid ragwort poisoning for your horse is to dig up all ragwort roots and burn them. It’s as simple as getting rid of all ragwort in your horse’s field to avoid any sickness.

Top Tip: when removing ragwort from a meadow, it is recommended that you wear gloves to avoid any allergic reactions.

2. Sycamore Trees and Horses

Although sycamore trees are beautiful they are extremely harmful to horses, causing an often-fatal muscle condition called Atypical Myopathy. Unfortunately, Atypical Myopathy has become increasingly common in Britain and has been triggered by the ingestion of sycamore seeds.

When your horse ingests sycamore seeds he will experience sweating, lethargy, stiffness, dark urine, a high heart rate, and difficult standing. Horses suffering from sycamore ingestion are often found lying down.

How to Avoid Sycamore Tree Poisoning

Sycamore poisoning can be avoided by carefully fencing off any sycamore trees on the edge of or inside your horse’s paddock. In addition, you should also ensure the removal of any sycamore seedlings to minimise the risk of your horse ingesting the seeds.

3. Oak Trees and Horses

The oak tree is beneficial for many animals, but the horse is not one of them. The tannic and gallic acids inside of acorns can cause severe damage to your horse’s system and kidneys. However, it’s not just the acorns that are a problem, the whole of the oak is toxic to horses.

If your horse consumes acorns (and many horses do overindulge on them to the point of making themselves sick), they will suffer numerous symptoms. The most common effects of acorn ingestion are constipation, blood in the urine, weight loss, colic, and fluid accumulation in the legs. If your horse has a history of acorn consumption, a specific diagnosis can be made. Otherwise, horse owners must notice the signs from the symptoms their horses exhibit.

How to Avoid Oak Tree Poisoning

The best way to avoid oak poisoning for your horse is to graze your horse in fields that do not contain oak trees. Alternatively, take the time to fence off all oak trees in your horse’s field to prevent access. If your horse does ingest acorns or other parts of the oak tree, activated charcoal is known to be an effective treatment. However, always seek the advice of your vet first.

4. Buttercups and Horses

Horses tend to avoid feeding on buttercups if there is more desirable feed available. However, if not, horses do graze on buttercups and these can cause numerous health problems in horses such as irritation of the mouth, diarrhoea, and colic-like symptoms. Buttercups are members of the Ranuculus plant species and contain a toxin called ‘glycoside ranuculin’ that causes irritation when in contact with sensitive skin such as the muzzle of a horse.

How to Avoid Buttercup Poisoning

The good news is that any health problems caused by buttercups will be resolved quickly following the removal of the horse from the buttercup-infested pasture. It is unlikely your horse will die from buttercup poisoning. However, if he consumes a significant number of buttercups, it is likely he may die.

5. Deadly Nightshade and Horses

One of the most poisonous plants to horses is the deadly nightshade plant, otherwise known as Atropa Belladonna. Nightshade is a plant naturally distasteful to horses and, therefore, they do not prefer to eat this plant if there is more desirable foliage available. The most toxic part of the nightshade are the leaves and stems.

Deadly nightshade can often be found in wooded areas, along roadsides, and amongst wild growth on farmland, affecting horses of any age. If your horse consumes deadly nightshade he will experience numerous symptoms, the most notable being; muscle tremors, disorientation, dilated pupils, nervousness, and even death.

How to Avoid Deadly Nightshade Poisoning

Avoid your horse consuming deadly nightshade poisoning by removing all plants from his pasture or fencing off sections of undergrowth where nightshade may be. If your horse exhibits signs of deadly nightshade poisoning, call your vet immediately.

Keep Your Horse Healthy Inside the Barn as Well as Outside

In addition to ensuring your horse is kept safe and healthy in his pasture, it is important you keep your horse safe and healthy in his barn. Discover our top tips for keeping your horse healthy in his stable, here.

I hope you have found this information helpful. It is important you are able to recognise the plants that are poisonous to your horse so that you can keep your horse safe, healthy, and happy.

If you would like more information about poisonous plants, call us today. Our friendly team would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.

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