Are Cherry Trees Poisonous To Horses?

Cherry trees can pose a potential risk to horses as certain parts of the tree, including the leaves and seeds, contain cyanogenic glycosides which can be toxic when ingested in large quantities. However, the risk of poisoning is generally low if horses have access to a varied diet and consume cherry tree parts in moderation.

If you have cherry trees in proximity to your horses, it is important to monitor their access to the trees and promptly remove fallen branches or fruits to minimize the risk of ingestion. It is always advisable to consult with a veterinarian for specific guidance and recommendations regarding your horse’s diet and potential exposure to cherry trees.

While cherry tree poisoning is relatively uncommon in horses, it’s still crucial to be aware of the potential dangers and take precautionary measures to ensure their well-being. By implementing appropriate management practices and remaining vigilant, you can help keep your horses safe from any possible toxicities associated with cherry trees.

are cherry trees poisonous to horses

Symptoms and Risks: Recognizing the Effects of Cherry Tree Poisoning in Horses

Cherry trees are a common sight in many areas, with their beautiful blossoms and delicious fruit. However, these trees can pose a significant risk to horses if ingested. It is important for horse owners and caretakers to be aware of the symptoms and risks associated with cherry tree poisoning in horses.

Symptoms of Cherry Tree Poisoning in Horses

When a horse ingests parts of a cherry tree, such as leaves, bark, or fruit, it can lead to toxicity and various symptoms. These symptoms may include:

  • Gastrointestinal upset, such as colic or diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Excessive salivation
  • Abnormal heart rate or rhythm
  • Difficulty breathing or labored breathing
  • Weakness or lethargy
  • Tremors or convulsions
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and mucous membranes)

If you notice any of these symptoms in your horse and suspect cherry tree poisoning, it is crucial to seek immediate veterinary attention. Timely intervention can greatly improve the chances of successful treatment and recovery.

Risks and Complications

Cherry tree poisoning in horses can lead to various complications and pose serious risks to their health. Some of the potential risks and complications include:

  • Gastrointestinal damage: Ingesting parts of the cherry tree can cause irritation and damage to the gastrointestinal tract, leading to colic, ulcers, or other gastrointestinal issues.
  • Organ damage: Certain compounds found in cherry trees, such as cyanogenic glycosides, can be toxic to the liver, kidneys, and other organs. Prolonged exposure or ingestion of these compounds can result in organ damage.
  • Respiratory distress: Cherry tree poisoning may cause respiratory distress in horses, including difficulty breathing or labored breathing. This can be life-threatening if not addressed promptly.
  • Neurological problems: In severe cases, cherry tree poisoning can lead to neurological problems in horses, such as tremors, convulsions, or even coma. These symptoms require immediate veterinary intervention.

It is important to note that cherry tree poisoning can be fatal if left untreated or if horses consume a large quantity of the toxic plant material. Therefore, prevention and early detection are key in protecting your horse’s health.

Prevention and Treatment

To prevent cherry tree poisoning in horses, it is crucial to ensure they do not have access to cherry trees or any parts of the tree, including fallen fruit or branches. Secure fencing and regular property inspections can help minimize the risk of exposure.

If you suspect cherry tree poisoning in your horse, contact your veterinarian immediately. They will be able to provide appropriate treatment based on the specific symptoms and condition of your horse. Treatment may involve supportive care, such as intravenous fluids, medication to manage symptoms, and monitoring the horse’s vital signs and organ function.

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Cherry tree poisoning can have serious repercussions for horses, leading to gastrointestinal issues, organ damage, respiratory distress, and even neurological problems. Recognizing the symptoms and risks associated with cherry tree poisoning is crucial for prompt veterinary intervention and improving the chances of successful treatment and recovery. Preventing access to cherry trees and seeking immediate veterinary attention are key steps in protecting your horse from this potential danger.

Prevention and Management: How to keep horses safe from cherry tree toxicity

Cherry trees are a common sight in many landscapes and gardens, but their fruit and leaves can be toxic to horses. It’s important for horse owners and caretakers to be aware of the dangers and take appropriate measures to prevent cherry tree toxicity. Here are some guidelines to keep your horses safe:

1. Identify and Remove Cherry Trees from Horse Pastures

The first step in prevention is to identify any cherry trees in or near your horse pastures. Cherry trees can be recognized by their distinctive flowers, bark, and fruit. Remove any cherry trees from pastures and ensure that horses do not have access to fallen fruit or leaves. If removal is not possible, consider using fencing to prevent horses from reaching the trees.

2. Educate Stable Staff and Horse Owners

Make sure that all stable staff and horse owners are aware of the dangers of cherry tree toxicity. Provide education and training on identifying cherry trees and the signs of toxicity in horses. Encourage regular communication and reporting of any potential exposure or symptoms.

3. Regular Pasture Maintenance

Maintain pastures regularly to ensure that cherry trees or their fallen leaves and fruit do not accumulate. Regularly mow and clear pastures to prevent any potential ingestion by horses.

4. Provide Ample Forage and Fresh Water

Ensure that horses have access to ample forage and fresh water at all times. This will help reduce the chances of them browsing on cherry trees or leaves out of hunger or thirst.

5. Monitor Horses for Symptoms

Regularly monitor your horses for any signs of cherry tree toxicity. Symptoms may include colic, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, increased heart rate, or weakness. If you suspect cherry tree toxicity, contact your veterinarian immediately.

6. Have a Veterinary Emergency Plan

It’s important to have a veterinary emergency plan in place in case of any toxic exposure. Keep your veterinarian’s contact information readily available and ensure that you have transportation arrangements in case your horse needs immediate medical attention.

7. Consider Alternative Trees

If you still want trees in your horse pasture, consider planting alternative trees that are safe for horses. Some options include oak, maple, or willow trees. Research the toxicity of different tree species before making a decision.

8. Regular Veterinary Check-ups

Regular veterinary check-ups can help identify any potential health issues in your horses, including any signs of cherry tree toxicity. Work closely with your veterinarian to ensure the overall well-being of your horses.

In summary, preventing cherry tree toxicity in horses involves identifying and removing cherry trees from pastures, educating staff and horse owners, maintaining pastures, providing ample forage and water, monitoring horses for symptoms, having a veterinary emergency plan, considering alternative trees, and scheduling regular veterinary check-ups. By following these guidelines, you can help keep your horses safe from cherry tree toxicity.

Alternative Feeding Options: Safe Food Alternatives for Horses to Avoid Cherry Tree Poisoning

Horses are known to be curious creatures and may end up consuming toxic plants, posing a significant health risk. One such plant that can be harmful to horses is the cherry tree. Ingesting parts of a cherry tree, such as leaves, stems, or fruit pits, can lead to cyanide poisoning in horses. To ensure the well-being of your equine friend, it is essential to provide safe feeding alternatives. In this section, we will explore some suitable food options to prevent cherry tree poisoning in horses.

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1. Pasture Management

A well-maintained pasture is the foundation of a healthy diet for horses. By properly managing and maintaining the pasture, you can ensure that your horse has access to a variety of safe and nutritious forage. This will reduce the risk of them seeking out toxic plants such as cherry trees.

2. Hay

Hay is a common and safe alternative to cherry tree foliage. Ensure that the hay is of good quality and free from any contaminants. Horses rely on hay as a significant part of their diet, so providing a consistent and nutritious source is vital.

3. Commercial Horse Feeds

Commercial horse feeds are specially formulated to provide a well-balanced diet for horses. These feeds typically contain a mixture of grains, vitamins, and minerals that cater to the nutritional needs of horses. Choosing a reputable brand and following the recommended feeding guidelines will help keep your horse healthy and prevent them from seeking out cherry trees as a food source.

4. Beet Pulp

Beet pulp is a high-fiber feed option that can be used as a supplement or partial replacement for hay. It is easily digestible and can help maintain a healthy digestive system in horses. Soaking the beet pulp before feeding it to your horse will ensure that it is properly hydrated and prevent any choking hazards.

5. Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

While some fruits and vegetables can be given as treats, it is important to research which ones are safe for horses to consume. Apples, carrots, and watermelon are commonly accepted as safe options, but always feed them in moderation to maintain a balanced diet for your horse.

6. Consult with a Veterinarian

If you have concerns about the nutritional needs of your horse or are unsure about suitable feeding alternatives, consult with a veterinarian. They can provide valuable advice based on your horse’s specific dietary requirements and help you make informed decisions to prevent cherry tree poisoning.


Feeding horses safe alternatives is crucial to avoid cherry tree poisoning. Proper pasture management, providing high-quality hay, utilizing commercial horse feeds, incorporating beet pulp, and offering approved fruits and vegetables are all viable options. Consulting with a veterinarian will ensure that your horse’s dietary needs are met and that they have a healthy and toxin-free diet.

When to Call the Vet: Knowing when it’s necessary to seek professional help for cherry tree poisoning in horses

Cherry trees are a common sight in many landscapes, providing beautiful blossoms in the spring and tasty fruits in the summer. However, these trees can be toxic to horses if ingested. Cherry tree poisoning in horses can lead to a range of symptoms, from mild gastrointestinal upset to more severe complications. As a responsible horse owner, it’s important to know when to call the vet for assistance in cases of cherry tree poisoning.

Symptoms of Cherry Tree Poisoning in Horses

Recognizing the symptoms of cherry tree poisoning in horses is crucial in determining when to seek professional help. Some common symptoms include:

  1. Colic: Horses may experience abdominal pain, restlessness, and changes in appetite.
  2. Gastrointestinal upset: This can manifest as diarrhea or constipation.
  3. Difficulty breathing: Cherry tree poisoning can cause respiratory distress.
  4. Dehydration: Horses may exhibit signs of dehydration, such as dark urine and dry mucous membranes.
  5. Laminitis: In severe cases, laminitis, a painful and potentially debilitating hoof condition, may develop.
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If you notice any of these symptoms in your horse and suspect cherry tree poisoning, it’s important to take immediate action.

Immediate Steps to Take

When you suspect cherry tree poisoning in your horse, it’s crucial to act quickly. Here are some immediate steps to take:

  1. Remove access to cherry trees: If your horse is still in the vicinity of a cherry tree, move them to a safe area where they cannot ingest any more leaves or fruit.
  2. Call your vet: Contact your veterinarian and provide them with detailed information about your horse’s symptoms and the potential cherry tree exposure.
  3. Follow vet’s instructions: Your vet will provide guidance on what to do next, which may include administering activated charcoal to absorb any remaining toxins or bringing your horse to the clinic for further evaluation and treatment.

Preventing Cherry Tree Poisoning

Prevention is always better than treatment when it comes to cherry tree poisoning in horses. Here are some preventive measures you can take:

  • Remove cherry trees from pastures and paddocks: If possible, remove any cherry trees from areas where your horse has access. This will eliminate the risk of ingestion.
  • Provide alternative forage options: Ensure that your horse has access to high-quality forage and a balanced diet to discourage them from seeking out other plants or trees for nutrition.
  • Regular pasture maintenance: Keep pastures well-maintained and free from potentially toxic plants, including cherry trees.
  • Monitor your horse’s behavior: Regularly observe your horse for any signs of curiosity or interest in cherry trees. Redirect their attention and provide appropriate distractions to prevent them from exploring these trees.
  • Educate yourself and others: Learn more about toxic plants and educate others in your equine community about the risks associated with cherry tree poisoning in horses.


Knowing when to call the vet is crucial when it comes to cherry tree poisoning in horses. Recognizing the symptoms, taking immediate action, and implementing preventive measures are key to ensuring your horse’s well-being. By being proactive and informed, you can minimize the risk of cherry tree poisoning and provide prompt and appropriate care if needed.


Are cherry trees poisonous to horses?

Yes, cherry trees can be toxic to horses. The leaves, pits, and stems of cherry trees contain a compound called cyanide, which is harmful to horses if ingested in significant quantities. It is advisable to keep horses away from cherry trees and remove any fallen fruit or branches to prevent accidental ingestion.


In conclusion, while cherry trees can add beauty to landscapes and provide delicious fruit for humans, they can pose a potential risk to horses. The leaves, twigs, and pits of cherry trees contain a compound called cyanogenic glycosides, which can release cyanide when ingested. This can lead to severe health complications and even be potentially fatal for horses. Therefore, it is important for horse owners and caretakers to be aware of the potential dangers and ensure that cherry trees are not accessible to horses in their surroundings. Taking preventive measures and providing a safe environment for horses is crucial to their well-being.