Nature usually provides a smell or texture to some plants that will keep a horse from wanting to eat it. However, this is not always the case and in times of drought or poor pasture conditions, horses will seek any source of food.

There are certain trees and plants that can be harmful to your equine buddy. Where there are many other trees and plants that could be harmful, we are listing just some of the most common found in our area to make you aware of what can cause serious illness or even death. Call us if you have a tree or plant not listed and we'll check on that for you.


  • Oak Trees - This is a common tree in and throughout Texas. Horses love to pull the leaves from these trees if the branches are too low and even eat fallen acorns. Oak trees contain tannins that are toxic in large enough doses and can cause damage to the intestinal tract and kidneys. The red oak trees are more toxic than white oak, both common to our area.
  • Red Maple Trees - A beautiful tree in the fall but it can be deadly to your horse. The fallen dead leaves of this tree can cause death when consumed. The toxin produced will destroy red blood cells, and the body can no longer pump oxygen sufficiently through the system. If you think your horse has eaten any dead maple leaves and becomes lethargic, have difficulty breathing or colicy with increased heart rate, call us immediately.
  • Fruit Trees - Peach, plum, cherry, almond, apricot and nectarine (Prunus Family). That orchard of fruits that you enjoy so much can be extremely toxic to your equine family. The leaves of these trees that may have been damaged by frost or drought or storm may seem like a treat to your horse but it only takes a small amount to sicken the animal by cyanide poisoning. This poison can cause rapid breathing, urinary incontinence, urinary or kidney infection, convulsions and coma.
  • Black or Honey Locust Trees - Although fatal cases are rare, the bark and leaves of this tree can make for a very sick horse. If you do happen to have any of these trees in or reachable from your horse pasture, you might be aware of signs showing depression, poor appetite, weakness to paralysis, abdominal pain, diarrhea (which may be bloody) and abnormalities in the heart rate and/or rhythm.

Plants & Bushes

  • Yew - This plant can grow as a shrub or tree sometimes reaching 20' tall. Great for landscaping but dangerous if close enough for your horse to take a bite out of it. This plant is EXTREMELY toxic with symptoms appearing rapidly. Alkaloids are the demons in this plant and can cause muscle weakness, a slowed or irregular heartbeat, breathing difficulty & convulsions.
  • Oleander - This is a beautiful flowering ornamental shrub but it can cause death in your horse in as little 12 -24 hours with only 20 or 30 eaten leaves but all parts of this plant are poisonous. Some symptoms to look for if you think your horse has ingested this plant would be breathing difficulty, profuse sweating, abnormal heartbeat, tremors or twitching, diarrhea and colic-like symptoms.
  • Miscellaneous Plants - Some of these are only harmful when certain molds grow or at certain stages of growth. The best prevention is to keep a 'clean' pasture with good weed control and plant away from the fences.
    • Blue Periwinkle (Vinca)
    • Buttercups
    • Calla & Canna Lillies
    • Dandelion
    • Johnson Grass
    • Rhododendruns (Azaleas, etc.)
    • Tall Fescue

Contact our office to set up a feeding and vaccination program for your equine family!

Cherokee Animal Clinic
P O Box 416
(Hwy. 84 East)
Rusk, TX 75785

For Appointment or Emergencies
Call 903-683-5315

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