There are many plants that are poisonous to horses, and hops are one of them. It is therefore important to understand how much of a risk these pose so you can take precautions and minimize the risk as far as possible.
In general, most horses love eating plants. In fact, they will eat almost anything they can find. As such, it’s not uncommon to see horses munching on grass or chewing on shrubs in your local park. But while the majority of plants horses tend to graze on in their natural habitat are safe for them to consume, there are quite a few that aren’t so kind. Some may even prove fatal if ingested frequently.
Fortunately, in the case of hops—and many other horse-unfriendly plants—there are a lot of telltale signs to look out for when determining whether or not it is safe for your horse to eat or drink from a specific plant in their environment.
What Are Hops?
Hops (Humulus lupulus) is a climbing plant belonging to the Cannabaceae family. It is a species of hemp that is primarily cultivated for its flowers, which are used to produce beer. Hops are native to the Northern Hemisphere, particularly in Northern Europe, the Middle East, and some parts of North America. They are also cultivated in many other parts of the world, particularly Asia. Hops typically grow as a climbing vine, reaching heights of around 6 feet (1.8 meters). They are deep green in colour and have large leaves. The flowers of the plant are what are used to make beer, and they are typically pale green or yellow in colour. Hops are a flowering plant (i.e. they bloom) and have a very long life cycle. They can take up to two years to reach maturity, which is why they are often used as a companion plant to other crops.
Are Hops Poisonous To Horses?
Hops are one of several plants that are poisonous to horses. Depending on the quantity ingested and the horse’s sensitivity to the toxins, they may or may not die as a result of consuming hops. Hops are mildly toxic to horses, meaning that they will experience negative side effects from consuming them but should be fine if they only eat a little. However, ingesting large amounts of hops over a long period of time is potentially fatal for horses.
Why Are Hops Poisonous To Horses?
As with most other plants that are poisonous to horses (and humans), there is no clear consensus as to why exactly hops are toxic to horses. However, most researchers agree that some of the toxins found in hops are responsible for the plant’s toxicity. While many of these toxins are also found in other species of plants, the amounts of each toxin in each species varies. Hops contain several types of toxins, including alkaloids, resins, and phenols. Many of these toxins are also found in other poisonous plants and are responsible for their harmful effects.
What Are The Signs That A Horse Has Been Eating Hops?
Hops contain a chemical called allergenic glucosides that cause an allergic reaction when ingested by horses. This allergic reaction results in a build-up of pressure in the gastrointestinal tract, which can cause colic. In some cases, it may also lead to laminitis if there is already inflammation in the foot. If your horse exhibits symptoms such as abdominal pain, colic, or laminitis, it is important to take them to the vet as soon as possible. If the vet diagnoses your horse with an allergic reaction, you should monitor the horse for symptoms for 24 hours. If their condition does not improve, you should take them back to the vet.
Hops are mildly toxic to horses, meaning that they can cause mild side effects but are not immediately life-threatening. If ingested in large quantities over a long period of time, they may cause serious health issues or even result in death. Hops are typically found in gardens, so it is important to ensure that your horse cannot reach them. If you do spot your horse eating hops, remove them and make sure they cannot reach them again. Hops are not an ideal snack, but they are not necessarily fatal if eaten in moderation.