Happy Thanksgiving to you all! In a brief departure from our usual topics, lets touch on some of the holiday hazards that can endanger our horse companions. So, before you hang that holiday wreath and string up those glowing lights on your horse’s stall door, think about how your four-legged companion could end up in trouble.
Holiday greenery can be a beautiful addition to your barn décor and create the picture-perfect moment with your equid, but be cautious, some beautiful greens can be very toxic to horses. One of the most common landscaping and most hazardous plants is yew. Yew is a classic, beautiful plant that you will find in wreaths this coming season, but just one half pound can be fatal to a one thousand-pound horse. Compounds within the yew plant damage the heart muscle and within two to three hours of ingestion horses can show signs of weakness, incoordination, muscle tremors and death.
Kissing under the mistletoe is a wonderful tradition, but mistletoe and holly can also be poisonous. Although not as toxic as yew, mistletoe and holly plants, especially the berries, can cause colic (stomach discomfort), difficulty breathing, tremors and possibly seizures in your horses. Make sure to hang the mistletoe high or out of your horses’ reach.
We have talked a lot about chocolate being toxic to pets in the past. Chocolate would be toxic if they could eat enough of it, but a candy bar or a box of chocolates is not harmful to a horse unless they have a pre-existing insulin resistant condition. Alcohol, on the other hand, can be very harmful even in small volumes. Horses absorb alcohol in less than hour and can become sedated and uncoordinated from very small amounts.
Overall, use a little caution when decorating and celebrating with your horsey companions.