Are you thinking of adding new food to your horse’s diet? Do you think that potatoes would be a suitable food to add to your horse’s meal? So, can horses eat potatoes is the question? Is it harmful in any way to them? Don’t worry; we’ve got answers to all of your questions!
In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about the effect of potatoes on horses and whether they could eat them or not. So, continue reading to learn more.
Is It Safe to Feed Potatoes to Your Horse?
The short answer is no; horses can’t eat potatoes because they’re harmful to them, like any other nightshade vegetable. Also, potatoes are particularly dangerous when eaten uncooked. Therefore, you should never offer them to your horse.
Fortunately, most horses dislike potatoes and other nightshade plants due to their unpleasant flavor. However, it’s still possible for them to eat potatoes by mistake, so make sure that your horse doesn’t come in contact with nearby potatoes.
It’s worth noting that a tiny mouthful won’t hurt an adult horse, but large quantities of potatoes might create major gastrointestinal problems.
Why Horses Can’t Eat Potatoes
And now, let’s have a look at the reasons why potatoes are bad for horses.
Potato Plant Is Poisonous to Horses
Potatoes are members of the nightshade family, and plants in the nightshade family have been scientifically confirmed to induce gastrointestinal upset in horses.
In fact, the risk is more imposing when the potato is uncooked. This is because raw potatoes contain a high level of solanine, a substance that makes digestion much more challenging for your horse; hence, severe gastrointestinal problems.
In terms of nutritional content, potatoes aren’t as wholesome as other vegetables. In addition, they have a more shocking starch content, which might cause complications in your horses’ diet, such as weight gain and increased blood sugar levels.
Tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers are other examples of nightshade plant species that may be growing at the edge of your vegetable garden. When choosing your equine’s food, make sure not to include these crops. In any case, horses can’t consume these nightshade vegetables, so take care.
Horses Don’t Really Like Potatoes
The good news is that horses have a natural aversion to the potato plant. This is because potatoes are unpalatable to equines, so they’ll just avoid eating them.
Can Cooked Potatoes Be Fed to a Horse?
Solanine is broken down by heat, so it’s mostly broken down during the cooking process. This may lead you to believe that feeding your horse-cooked potatoes is acceptable. Although boiled potatoes are unlikely to contain dangerous levels of solanine, you still don’t want to risk poisoning your horse. So, don’t feed them cooked potatoes.
Also, processed potatoes, like chips, include many chemicals and sodium, both of which are detrimental to your horse’s digestive system. However, this isn’t limited to packaged potato snacks; it’s for any processed food.
Because horses’ digestive tract isn’t meant for it, try not to give your horse processed food in general.
Additionally, boiled potatoes get prepared with oils, butter, and other fatty ingredients. These chemicals are highly rich in fat and can cause significantly more weight gain than potatoes alone.
Can Horses Eat Potato Peels?
Potatoes are potentially hazardous to horses, as previously stated. But do potato peels pose the same risk? Yes, potato peels are also dangerous to your horse. It’s because solanine is found in higher concentrations in potato peels than in the flesh of the vegetable.
Potato peels, which contain ten times the amount of solanine in the meat, are also high in starch, which can cause obesity, indigestion, and choking in horses. However, some equine training trailblazers claim that their horses enjoy the skin and have had no health problems as a result.
However, this notion can’t be verified because all horses are raised differently, which makes them exhibit different symptoms. In addition, when it comes to digesting toxins, immunity can play an important role.
So if you’re wondering whether horses can eat potatoes peeling as a substitute for the actual plant, the answer is no, as well.
Symptoms of Potato Poisoning
If horses consume potatoes or potato plants, they may exhibit signs of poisoning, depending on the amount consumed. However, the harmful effects of solanine vary in severity.
The following symptoms are the most common ones that may alarm you that your horse has potato poisoning:
- Diarrhea containing blood
- Excessive thirst
- Excessive drooling
- Abdominal swelling
If your horse potato poisoning is severe, you may also notice the following:
- Respiratory distress
- Loss of appetite
However, plant poisoning is difficult to identify in its milder forms since the symptoms are so widespread. Also, signs of the gastrointestinal tract can mimic a variety of illnesses.
Plus, when it comes to poisoning, symptoms differ from horse to horse. So the veterinarian will go through a clinical examination along with your horse’s medical history, deworming program, and daily food. The vet may also recommend blood testing, a urinalysis, and fecal sample analysis to rule out any underlying ailments.
It’s important to notify the veterinarian if you see the potato plant being consumed or notice an area that has been severely grazed. Having plant samples to show the vet is quite beneficial, as well.
How to Keep Your Horse Away From Potatoes
The fact that horses dislike potatoes is a perfect and natural way to keep them away from potatoes. Typically, horses will take a few bites and then ignore these vegetables.
Also, it’s important to note that horses can’t vomit, so once they ingest something, there’s no going back.
So, as a horse owner, you should always inspect the areas where your horse spends most of its time. When checking their most often utilized spaces, look for any plants or weeds that horses should avoid.
The safest approach to keep your horse away from potatoes is to eliminate any plants or weeds that horses shouldn’t eat. This isn’t the quickest solution, but it’ll give you more peace of mind than depending on the horse’s innate distaste of potatoes.
However, you have to make sure that you eliminate the plants to prevent any regrowth after some time. So, you need to keep checking the soil frequently following the elimination.
Treatment of Potato Poisoning
Potato poisoning is treatable, but it’s critical to seek care as soon as possible. The value of speed can’t be overstated. So, if your horse has consumed a substantial amount of potatoes, especially uncooked potatoes, contact your veterinarian immediately.
The sooner treatment can begin, the higher your horse’s chances of survival. The treatment will most likely include administering activated charcoal and diuretics to your horse, as well as a medication called neostigmine.
A horse may usually recover from an acute episode of potato poisoning. However, the prognosis is dismal in cases of severe toxin consumption. But if your horse can overcome the toxicity, the therapy will eliminate any leftover toxins from the system.
In addition to diuretics, activated charcoal, and neostigmine, the vet may administer medicines that relieve stomach problems like nausea, as it’s important to make the horse’s comfort a top consideration. It’s also a good idea to keep your horse in a safe, quiet area while it heals.
What Other Foods Are Harmful to Horses
There are other types of foods that are harmful to your horse, such as meat and caffeine products, broccoli, cabbage, avocado, persimmons, and rhubarb.
Also, any fruit with a stone, such as peach, can result in the choking of your horse. So, consider removing the stones if you want to feed your horse a healthy, safe stone-containing fruit.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Potatoes Kill Horses?
Yes, a healthy horse could be poisoned and killed by eating a lot of potatoes. Potatoes are a member of the nightshade family of plants, which are all poisonous to horses, especially the uncooked ones.
Can Horses Eat Mashed Potatoes?
Although cooking removes certain toxins, it doesn’t eliminate them. So cooked potatoes are also toxic to horses. Also, it makes no difference whether they’re mashed or pieces; your horse shouldn’t eat any kind of potato.
As you can see, your horse shouldn’t eat potatoes as it’s harmful to it, especially the uncooked version of potatoes.
While cooked potatoes are unlikely to be harmful, there’s always the possibility of poisoning. So, it’d be best if you didn’t give your horse any kind of potato. Plus, cooked potatoes contain a high starch content anyways, which may cause unwanted weight gain to your pet horse.