Tomatoes are delicious and we use them in so many dishes but some animals can be harmed by them so can horses eat tomatoes? These plants are actually related to potatoes, eggplants, tobacco, chili and bell peppers as all are members of the nightshade or Solanaccae family. They all contain an alkaloid called solanine though and that is why some animals can be poisoned by them.
Tomatoes and Horses
The solanine is a toxin for horses and it affects the nervous system as well as their digestive system so all of the plants we mentioned above, tomatoes included, are actually poisonous for horses. Solanine is most predominant in the green parts of the plant so if they eat some part of the fruit they may be fine but under no circumstances should you encourage that.
Atropine is also contained in tomatoes which have green leaves and this will slow down their gut motility which might not seem like a problem but horses are already very prone to develop colic so this can prove much more serious than you might think.
Symptoms of Poisoning
Depression is the first typical symptom, followed by nervousness combined with a low heart and respiration rate. Colics might develop, the muscles can start twitching and the horse will seem weaker than usual. The eyes are also affected, the animal will be more sensitive to light, might even grow blind and have the pupils dilated.
They will salivate in excess, won’t be able to stand and they could have changes in their bowel movement, meaning that diarrhea or constipation are just as likely. As you see, these symptoms are extremely serious and the quicker you identify the problem the more chances of recovery they have.
Precautions and Treatment
Try to keep the grazing activities of horses far away from places where any nightshade family plants grow since horses aren’t very picky about what they eat and they might end up getting poisoned. If you suspect that your horse ingested some tomato leaves you have to contact a veterinarian immediately as they will require emergency treatment.
It is important to find out about the types of nightshade that grow in your area and to identify them so that you can keep your horse safe from them. They might be difficult to get rid of since if you simply pull the plant the roots will be disturbed and stimulated to spread so you have to keep checking the area for a while.
There isn’t a specific diagnostic to determine if nightshade poisoning is causing the symptoms so searching the area for plants is your best bet. Supportive care and a drug called neostigmine along with activated charcoal is the typical treatment as the goal is to prevent the poison from being absorbed in the digestive tract.
It is a very bad idea to feed tomatoes to a horse since they will likely be poisoned by them and the same thing applies for all the members of the nightshade family.