On a camping trip last weekend, we went around our campsite to identify and mark poison ivory. No one wanted to break out in that itchy rash. It made me think about my horses grazing back home, and I wondered if they are able to avoid plants that may be poisonous.
I found out that there are some poisonous plants for horses around, but equines aren’t likely to graze on them because “most poisonous plants are unpalatable,” explain the editors of EQUUS magazine. Meaning your horse doesn’t want to even try it and the editors add that “an expiatory bite or two won’t harm him.”
However, some plants are still cause for concern and should be avoided by equines. Here are three poisonous plants that, if found in your area, you’ll want your horse to avoid.
You might be familiar with poisonous hemlock – it is this plant which is thought to have killed Socrates. Hemlock is fairly common in North America, normally found in places where the soil is moist, most often along fences, roadsides and ditches. It is a slender and smooth tree, with a reddish stem, white cloistered flowers and leaves that are distinguishably divided.
Hemlock leaves are sometimes mistaken for parsley, the roots for parsnip and the seeds for anise – this is often how accidental poisoning can occur. If found in your pasture, it should be eradicated to avoid contact with your horse. Hemlock poisoning in your horse can cause abdominal pain, bloating and loss of appetite. If your horse ingests hemlock, contact your veterinarian immediately. It may be possible to clear his stomach and keep the severe effects to a minimum.
Found in the eastern half of North America, red maples are known for their brilliant red coloring, every fall. Intact, the red maple is relatively harmless. But once the leaves fall and wilt, they become toxic, and unfortunately, tasty, to horses. If you have a red maple on or near your pasture, you should get rid of it. Be careful when disposing of the fallen leaves – they can remain toxic for a few weeks. Dispose of them in a place that your horse can not get to.
If you think your horse has eaten a fallen red maple leaf, call your veterinarian immediately. Increased breathing, faster pulse and dark brown urine are all signs of red maple poisoning.
Found in the western half of North America, oleander is mainly used for decoration and can tolerate lots of sunlight and poor soil conditions. It can grow tall, up to 25 feet, or kept trimmed at a short 5 feet. It is distinguished by its large flowers, which can range in colors from white, pink or red.
This plant is extremely dangerous in some aspects because the entire plant is poisonous and the effects can be fast and severe. However, grazing horses will not eat oleander, for they do not find it unpalatable. Often times it is dried leaves that inadvertently wind up with your horses food that cause the poisoning. Signs of oleander poisoning are diarrhea, tremors and an inability to stand. Consult your veterinarian immediately if you horse comes in contact with oleander.
You keep your equine looking the best with Mane ‘n Tail grooming products. Keep him healthy by investigating what poisonous plants may be lurking in your horse pasture.
View the rest of the list of the most plants poisonous for horses from EQUUS Magazine.