October 21, 2011 17:43
Q: Dr. Domoslai, My question today is about Oak Trees, Acorns and Horses. Would you be so kind to explain to the equine lovers why they are toxic to horses? I had no idea they were! I ask you to do this as I recenetly had a horrifying experience when my 8 yr. old gelding went from perfectly fine to nearly lame, lathargic, semi unresponsive and not keeping his penis retracted in his sheath. My farrier was the one that discovered him eating them. This drought in Texas has been tough & thankfully he is ok now. Sincerely, Teresa
A: Teresa, Thanks for the question. Acorns and the leaves and branches of the acorn tree have tannic and gallic acids which are a direct irritant to the gastro-intestinal tract of the horse. In small amounts these will not cause any problems but in large quantities can cause ulceration in the GI tract which can lead to a host of other problems one of which can be laminitis ie founder of the foot. Some horses develop a real taste for acorns and will seek them out and over consume. I’d likely fence off the trees as even though the nuts and leaves are inassessible till fall. A sudden wind storm may knock down acorns or leaves when you do not expect it and your horse may get into them. If you know your horse has over consumed acorns or acorn leaves get your vet out and they’ll likely try and coat your horses GI tract and move the offending acorns along to limit the damage.
Dr. Domoslai DVM CPVS