What Food Kills Horses? 10 Plants & Food to Avoid

Horses are extremely sensitive to toxins found in plants, and they are the only animals that can be poisoned by a weed. Horses may also be killed by common foods such as chocolate or onions. If you want to keep your horse safe, then it’s important for you to know which plants and foods are toxic for horses!

Horses can be notoriously picky about what they eat. From apples and carrots to sugar cubes, there are lots of safe options for our four-legged friends in need food treats or a quick snack on the go!

However, just because it’s edible doesn’t mean that all foods given to horses are good for them – some might even make your horse sick.

Here are 5 foods that you should never feed your horse:

The list of what not to feed a horse is just as important as the list of things they can and will eat. There’s nothing worse than seeing an animal in pain, so it’s best for them if we take measures now before anything bad happens.


The avocado plant is toxic to horses! So horse owners should not feed their animals avocados and keep them away from any areas where they might find the fruit.


What Food Kills Horses? 10 Plants & Food to Avoid


The flesh of the avocado isn’t toxic, but when you peel off its skin or pit and leaves it can be quite dangerous. Horses should steer clear from avocados at all costs.  If ingested by horses who then ingest the toxins in avocados, they may experience colic and respiratory distress as well as neurological dysfunction or edema (1).

Don’t risk your horse’s well-being by eating an avocado anywhere near them: just in case they happen to ingest any small pieces.

Chocolate & Cocoa Products

In a recent study, it has been found that chocolate is more dangerous to horses than we previously thought.

When we think about chocolate, it’s easy to focus on the tasty treats that make us happy. But there is another side of this beloved treat – one which can have serious consequences for our animal friends who may not know better than to indulge in their favorite sweet snack: horses.


Chocolate Kills Horses?


A horse’s sensitivity level when consuming chocolate depends on how much they consume and what type of chocolate was used (for example dark or milk). What might seem like an innocent nibble could result in death from large amounts of pure 100% unsweetened theobromine-rich solid unprocessed chocolate; but even smaller doses if given enough time/allergies etc., can cause big trouble.

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Oriental Persimmon

Persimmons are a tasty fruit, but be careful when feeding them to horses. The seeds and fibres of the persimmon can form into “sticky mass” and cause an obstruction inside their digestive tract known as ‘Phytobezoars‘ which then could lead to colic.

Colic is an extremely painful condition where the stomach becomes twisted or constricted leading to pain around one’s abdomen. It might not seem like you would feed your horse this tasty treat often, it still pays off knowing about these potential dangers.


persimmon Kills Horses?


With persimmon trees in your pasture, horses will eagerly gobble up the ripe fruits that fall to the ground every autumn. The best way to deal with this is by removing these trees from areas where horses graze.


So many people think that bread is harmless, but it can turn into a nasty doughy mess and cause colic. That’s why you should keep your horse away from them!

Once ingested, bread becomes sticky as stomach acids break down the starches in flour into sugars making them less soluble than they are before baking. As bread is of little nutritional value and isn’t even that tasty it is best to keep it away from your horse.

Keeping baked goods away from your horse is crucial to their health. So it’s best not to tempt fate by giving them any bread or other bakery items – even though they might seem harmless enough at first glance!

Nightshades and other Potatoes

Horses are known for their appetite. But they rarely develop a taste for plants in the nightshade family, and when it does happen there is always an exception to this rule.


potatoes Kills Horses?


Nightshades are considered toxic plants and horses should avoid them at all costs. Nightshade is a plant that contains the toxin, Atropine which can cause serious effects such as convulsions or death in humans if consumed. It’s important for horse keepers to know how these toxins affect the health of their horses so they can understand what might happen to their animals when left unattended with access to potatoes and nightshades.


Below are 5 plants that you should never feed your horse:

Ragwort Plant

The ragwort plant is common in British meadows, but you would be hard-pressed to find it amongst the hay that your horse consumes. Horses will usually avoid eating this bitter and dangerous flower due its unwelcome taste. However, if dried out well then mixed with hay they may not notice any difference at all.

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This means that when handling their food our horses are vulnerable to ingesting deadly poison known as Ragwort; a substance which is extremely toxic for them and can cause liver damage or death – often without showing symptoms until too late.

Fortunately there are ways of avoiding exposure such as checking your stored supplies regularly or better still keeping an eye on where your grazing land has been contaminated by these pesky plants spreading from other areas.


Ragwort Plant kills horses


As a horse owner, it is important to check your paddock regularly for ragwort. If you find the plant in question, dig up at its roots and burn them when possible. You should also wear gloves while handling this toxic weed so as not to risk coming into contact with any toxins that are present on the plants themselves or through touching areas where they may have spilled onto other surfaces nearby.

One early sign of poisoning by this dangerous plant includes weight loss despite normal eating habits. If detected soon enough, effects can be treated with steroids but no intervention will undo damage done once symptoms start showing like blindness and collapse over time without treatment.


The yew tree is a dangerous plant that can be found in North America. As little as one mouthful of this plant, which grows berry’s during the fall season, can cause cardiac and respiratory failure to horses within minutes. There are many cases in which horses would have been found dead with it still inside their mouths.


yew kills horses


One reasons you should avoid the Yew plant is that it has a toxic alkaloid toxin, taxine. The red berries also have poisonous qualities as they contain some amount of this same substance but to a lesser degree than inside the leaves or stem bark.

After trimming a yew tree, the leaves remain toxic even after they wilt. If you throw clippings into your pasture and leave them there with their deadly poison intact, it could lead to unfortunate accidents for any horses that eat from those areas later on. Yews are also used in decorative holiday decorations such as wreaths or boughs hung near an area where horses can access them – another potential source of exposure!

Oak Trees with Acorns

Some animals enjoy the flavor of acorns but that doesn’t mean that horses can also eat them. The tannic and gallic acids in acorns are not good for equines as it causes damage to their digestive system and kidneys, which will make them sick over time if consumed regularly. There is also anecdotal evidence suggesting some animals develop an addiction or dependency on these nuts so sometimes when a horse eats too many they end up getting really ill.

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acorn kills horses


Oak poisoning is a difficult diagnosis to make unless your horse has consumed large quantities of acorns. When the symptoms are present, they may include constipation, weight loss, colic and blood in urine or fluid accumulation in their legs.


Oleander is a common, evergreen shrub that produces white, pink or red flowers. Oleander grows in climates where the temperature remains above freezing and can only be found on southern United States soil. However this plant should not been seen as an ornamental garden decoration due to its danger of being eaten by horses!



It has potent cardiac glycosides which affect the heart’s ion balance causing irregularity with their heartbeat leading them to die from cardiac failure, colic or just physical discomfort.

The oleander plant is often used in landscaping, and if horses have access to it they will eat some of its leaves. If the horse has ridden around on trails or taken a quick bite out curiosity this might happen as well.

Make sure you keep these plants out of your yard if you own any horses nearby.


Horses are typically very wary of eating bracken ferns. However, some horses develop a taste for it when grazing is poor and they need to supplement their diet with something else that looks appetizing.

Horses who eat too many of these leaves will eventually begin exhibiting symptoms such as nervousness, staggering around the paddock (similar behavior exhibited by drunk humans), muscle spasms or convulsions which can be treated if caught early enough with thiamine supplementation prescribed by your vet!

The good news is that the plant only becomes harmful if consumed in large quantities over an extended period of time, such as ongoing consumption over two months or more.

Horses are pretty good at avoiding things like bracken, but if you’re concerned about them eating it in their field – you should make sure that there’s none of the stuff present. This will help keep a healthy balance between your horse grazing on grasses instead of weeds – which is what makes for happy horses!