Can Horses Eat Pine Needles? Are They Safe?

Horses are interesting creatures to have around.

They can provide companionship, they can give you a sense of freedom and they are great for exercising!

But what about feeding them? Can horses eat pine needles? Are they safe for your four-leg companion?

Keep reading to find out more about horse diets!

Can horses eat pine needles?

The answer is sometimes.

If they are the right kind of pine needles, sometimes they can eat them. But if they are not, then your horse could get sick.

To find out if it will be safe for them to eat pine needles, you should do an evaluation of the trees on your property and figure out which ones to avoid and which ones to let them eat.

If you don’t know what type of pine trees you have, get help from someone who knows. Pine trees that have toxic needles can hurt other animals besides horses. If you live on a ranch and raise these animals, be careful.

Are pine needles toxic to horses?

Some pine needles are bad for horses.

But, it is not just the needles that are bad – the pine tree bark and branches can also be unsafe for horses to eat. The worst pine tree that can be harmful to horses is called Ponderosa. This is a type of pine tree in North America.

It is commonly found in the western half of the United States and Canada.

Ponderosa pine is the tallest type of pine tree and grows to be 250 feet tall with 5-inch pine cones and thick needles.

Other types of trees you might want to be careful of are Norfolk Pine (Australian pine), Yew Pine (Japanese Yew), Monterey Pine, and the Lodgepole Pine.

Ponderosa Pine Poisoning

Ponderosa pine trees can give your horse a bad stomach.

The most likely time it happens is if the horse eats them when they are pregnant and then they might lose their baby or have one early. If the mare ate any during her first trimester, there is less of a chance she will miscarry.

When horses eat pine needles, they can have many different symptoms. Mild stomach pain to convulsions or even paralysis.

A miscarriage can happen within two to twelve days after the pine needle was eaten.

Other symptoms are mucus discharge, contractions in pregnant mares, convulsions, renal lesions (signs include excessive thirst and urination, and edema), and on very rare occasions death.

The horse’s ventral nervous system can also be affected by eating pine needles from the ponderosa tree. This includes drooling, lack of coordination, confusion, and head pressing.

What makes ponderosa pines toxic?

There are two things that make them toxic. The first is a chemical called pimaric acid and the second is a bacterium called listeria. It is thought that listeria causes miscarriages.

‘Help, my horse has just eaten some poisonous pine needles!’

If your horse eats pine needles, it might be sick.

Tell your vet if you think the horse has eaten the pine needles and its history of health. Your vet will need to do a physical exam and blood tests.

The vet can treat your horse if it is sick from eating pine needles.

First, the doctor will help the horse by washing out its stomach with water and then giving it medicine that absorbs any toxins in its body.

The vet might need to give the horse IV fluids to help it get better. Sometimes, a horse needs oxygen to help it breathe. You can give the horse different medications if needed.

The most important thing is to make sure the kidney does not get damaged. If this happens, then over time your horse’s life span will be shorter than normal.

Why do horses eat pine needles?

Horses eat pine needles because they get bored and there isn’t anything else to eat. Horses get bored when there isn’t any grass, hay, or other food sources.

There might be trees in their paddock that they can eat the bark from, branches, leaves, or pine needles that have fallen on the ground while grazing.

FAQ’s

Are pine needles poisonous to animals?

Pine needles are not poisonous to most animals.

When a large number of needles are eaten, the pine needle can be dangerous. But when a small number of needles are eaten, it will not hurt the animal.

It might cause some problems in their mouth and in their stomach because pine needles have oils in them and they have pointed ends.

Can ponies eat pine trees?

Yes, ponies can eat pine trees. You can give them Scotch, White, or Red pine trees as long as they don’t strip the bark. But evergreens like yew and box are not safe for horses to eat.

Is White Pine poisonous to horses?

It is not known if white pine is poisonous to horses. But it’s advisable you keep an eye on your horse after it eats things from the white pine tree.

Are Christmas trees good for horses?

Christmas trees are usually okay around horses. The pine and spruce trees can make sap, though, that could get in their manes and onto their coat. It might make the horse’s mouth feel irritation, too.

What trees are horses allergic to?

Buttercups, bracken fern, red maple tree leaves, black walnut tree, yew, oleander, poison hemlock, and yellow starthistle can all make a horse sick.

Can donkeys eat pine trees?

Pine trees are a good treat for donkeys. They like the taste and they enjoy eating them.

Conclusion

Some pine trees are not safe for horses.

Horses that eat them sometimes have problems. Symptoms can be mild, but they can also be very bad.

Make sure you know what kind of pine trees are on your property before you let your horse eat them. If there is a toxic tree, you should get rid of it or make sure to keep the horse away from it.