It is easy to get into the spirit of Fall this time of year. Everywhere you look there are pumpkins, hayrides, apple cider and the changing colors of the leaves. But did you know that there are hidden dangers in the fall for your horses? In the fall and winter, forages become scarcer and their nutritional value naturally decreases. As a result, horses will begin to look to plants they normally wouldn’t as a source of feed. One of the most dangerous of these is leaves. Those beautiful piles of red, yellow and orange leaves can be deadly to our equine friends.
Several types of leaves are toxic to horses and should be avoided at all costs. Horses like the taste and smell of recently fallen leaves so it is important to ensure that your pastures are free of the following types of trees and leaves that can prove toxic to horses:
Red Maple: Highly toxic to horses, ingestion of 1.5 pounds can be toxic and 3 pounds or more fatal. Symptoms include difficulty breathing, dark brown urine, increased heart and respiratory rates, lethargy and progressive weakness.
Cherry and Plum Trees: The leaves, twigs, bark and pit of this plant are all toxic to horses. Symptoms may include: Anxiety, weakness, convulsions and can lead to death.
Oak: Wilted Oak leaves and acorns can be toxic to horses in large quantities due to the toxin tannic acid. Symptoms of poisoning include lack of appetite, blood in urine, diarrhea, and colic.
Black Walnut: Toxic to horses. Symptoms of toxicity include laminitis, reluctance to move, difficulty breathing, increased temperature and heart rate, difficulty breathing, limb edema and increased gut sounds.
In order to keep your horses safe from the dangers of toxic leaves keep in mind the following:
- Ensure that falling leaves from toxic trees are not baled into hay
- Never dispose of raked leaves into your pasture
- When creating new pastures, ensure that you are aware of what trees are in and near the pasture and cut down and remove any trees and branches from trees that can be toxic to horses
- Supplement pasture intake with good-quality hay
Contact a veterinarian immediately if you believe that your horse may have ingested any of these leaves and is showing symptoms of toxicity.
Brought to you by CareMore Nutrition, the makers of RevolutionEQ and Prime4Life. www.CareMoreNutrition.com