Horses are allowed to eat different kinds of fruits and vegetables. But are tomatoes one of them?
After all, they contain only a few calories, but plenty of water, vitamins and minerals, and secondary plant compounds.
We would like to get to the bottom of the question of whether tomatoes are suitable for horses or whether they can even be dangerous for them.
In this guide, you’ll learn whether horses can eat tomatoes and the potential dangers associated with feeding them. We also show you possible alternatives.
Are horses allowed to eat tomatoes?
No, horses are not allowed to eat tomatoes because, like eggplants and potatoes, they belong to the nightshade family. Therefore, they contain toxic substances for the horse, which can lead to serious health problems.
Particularly dangerous are unripe tomatoes and the green sections. Not only the fruiting bodies, but the entire plant thus poses a danger to your horse.
Even without these substances, however, tomatoes that are healthy for humans do not contribute to your horse’s balanced diet.
Are tomatoes healthy?
Tomatoes have a high water content. In addition, they contain, among other things:
Already the high water content is problematic for horses, because their digestion is not designed for it.
For this reason, even without the green sections and without stems or leaves, they are likely to be fed only in very small quantities.
This small amount, in turn, does not contribute to the supply of the nutrients, fiber and phytochemicals.
In addition, there are several dangers when your horse eats tomatoes – or worse – the plants.
What happens when horses eat tomatoes?
As a representative of the nightshade family, the poisonous content – solanine – can cause symptoms of poisoning when eaten in large quantities.
These relate, among other things, to digestion. Typical are:
In addition, disorientation can occur.
The colics alone are more than painful and can even become life-threatening. Therefore, prompt treatment is always advisable and can prevent worse progressions.
What amount of tomatoes is toxic to horses?
Any amount is toxic to horses. However, the solanine content varies in different parts.
It is highest in unripe tomatoes, with up to 32 milligrams of solanine per 100 grams. The leaves and stems may contain similar amounts or even more.
In ripe tomatoes, on the other hand, the value drops significantly to as low as 0.7 milligrams.
A lethal dose for humans is 3 to 6 milligrams of solanine per kilogram of body weight. This means that large quantities would have to be ingested even on unripe tomatoes.
However, symptoms of poisoning occur much earlier. Since horses are very sensitive, even small doses are sufficient for this.
However, it is not possible to give an exact indication in kilograms. The exact solanine content would have to be determined beforehand.
In addition, the size and other health conditions of the horse must be taken into account. Therefore, it is better not to feed tomatoes at all, just to be on the safe side.
What should you do if your horse has eaten tomatoes?
It all depends on the amount, the type and the health of your horse. If he has eaten one or two ripe tomatoes, there is no problem.
If, on the other hand, it has accidentally eaten several plants with unripe tomatoes on them, you should inform your veterinarian.
If necessary, it is then useful to prevent or reduce the symptoms of poisoning with activated carbon.
If symptoms such as diarrhea or fecal water already exist, these complaints must also be treated.
The following applies: The earlier the treatment is carried out, the lower the risks and the faster the therapy usually works.
What alternatives can be found to tomatoes for the horse?
Although very small amounts of ripe tomatoes will not harm your horse, numerous other alternatives can be found. These include:
Leaves and twigs of fruit and nut trees and berry bushes
Through this you can give your horse variety, reward or entice him.
Also employment is possible by different offers. For example, you can hang turnips, carrots or twigs or fill a feed ball with hay and treats.
In this way, your horse can work out the food. This works against boredom and thus also prevents behavioral disorders and aggression.
You can also use some of the foods mentioned therapeutically.
These include honey, for example. Nuts or banana serve to increase the energy supply and fennel can be used due to its essential oils, among other things, for coughing.
Keep in mind with all of these foods that they should only be used as treats or as needed for supportive treatment.
Give them only in small amounts and make sure they are not contaminated or treated with pesticides.
Horses and tomatoes
Tomatoes become dangerous to horses only in larger quantities, but they also offer no health benefits.
Therefore, it is better not to feed them and to use alternatives.
Variety also prevents your horse from being over- or under-supplied with a nutrient.
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