Leeks are a common garden crop for any budding gardener, and they’re also a popular choice in our kitchens, where they’re utilized for bulking out soups and stews. They are a healthy and nutritious vegetable for humans; however, can horses eat leeks?
Some food such as blueberries can make a great treat for our horses but others, like onions, are actually poisonous. Leeks are a close relative to onions, so it’s important to check whether or not leeks are safe for horses.
Can Horses Eat Leeks?
No, horses can not eat leaks. Leeks are poisonous to horses and can kill them even in relatively small quantities. Leeks are a part of the Allium family of plants. Along with Onions, Garlic, shallots and chives, all of which are considered toxic plants for horses because they contain a chemical compound called N-propyl disulfide, which damages horses’ blood cells and can even be fatal. You should never feed your horse leeks.
Can Horses Eat Cooked Leeks?
No, horses can’t eat cooked leeks or raw ones. Regardless of how it is prepared, it’s still considered poisonous to horses, and it’s best to avoid feeding them to your horse entirely.
Are Leeks Bad For Horses?
Yes, leeks are bad for horses because they are a known toxin. If your horse eats a small slice of leek by accident, they should probably be okay. However, eating a large amount of leek in a single serving, or eating small quantities regularly, can result in sickness and anaemia.
What Happens if a Horse Eats Leeks?
What happens if your horse eats leeks will depend on how much they ate. If your horse only snuffled a little bit of leek by accident amongst other food, they will probably be okay. But, if they eat a large amount of leeks at once, or eat small amounts regularly for a few days, they may develop anaemia.
Anaemia is where the horse’s red blood cells are destroyed or damaged, and this impacts how oxygen is carried around their body. Consuming leeks could cause damage to hemoglobin, which may form Heinz bodies and can lead to hemolytic anaemia. Other problems like hemoglobinuria, where an abnormal amount of haemoglobin is found in the horse’s urine, are also associated with allium toxicity.
If a horse eats leeks or other alliums it can also cause oxidative damage to their red blood cells. In rare cases, cells may even break and then be die. A horse can develop hemolytic anaemia If their blood cells are damaged or destroyed faster than new ones can be made in their bone marrow.
What to do if your Horse Eats Leeks
What to do if your horse eats leeks will depend on whether they have eaten a little or a lot.
If you’ve got a healthy horse and they only eat a little bit of leek, they will probably be okay. It’s still always best to phone your vet for advice if you know your horse has eaten any leek at all. You should then watch your horse for several days for any symptoms of illness.
If your horse ate a lot of leeks at once they might show signs of illness within a day, but it’s more common for symptoms to only emerge after several days. If your steed shows any signs of illness, contact your vet or take them straight to the practice.
Signs of Anaemia in Horses Include:
- Lack of appetite
- Difficulty breathing
- Abnormal heart rate
- Abdominal pain
- Pale gums
The two most common symptoms of anaemia are pale gums and lethargy, so if you notice these in your horse, you need to get in touch with your vet as soon as possible. They will probably request a blood test to check if your horse is anaemic.
If your horse has eaten a lot of leeks, but the incident happened recently, your vet might decide to induce vomiting to try and get the leeks out of your equine’s stomach. They might tell you how to do this at home, or they might ask you to bring your horse to the surgery so they can treat them there.
From there, your horse might be fed activated charcoal to try and prevent toxins from being absorbed into its body. Your steed will probably be given intravenous fluids to keep them hydrated and help their liver and kidneys filter the toxins from their system. If your horse is anaemic, they will be given medication to treat it, and in severe cases, they might need a blood transfusion.
RECAP: Can Horses Eat Leeks?
No, a horse shouldn’t eat leeks or any food from the Allium family. As with many things, prevention is better than the cure and avoiding feeding leeks to your horse is the best preventative health strategy to keep your equine happy and healthy.
If you grow your own leeks, make sure they are fenced off and out of reach of any curious steeds to prevent any possibility that could make your horse sick.