Can Horses Eat Rhubarb?

Can Horses Eat Rhubarb

Whether it is the raw leaves, the stalks, or in a jam or pie, can horses eat rhubarb? Or is it poisonous? Read this guide to find out.

As a common backyard or garden plant, you might be afraid of what would happen if your horse happened to munch on it whilst he is outside. This guide will tell you everything you wanted to know about this plant and your horse.

Can Horses Eat Rhubarb?

No, Horses shouldn’t eat rhubarb. It is poisonous to horses. Luckily, the tart and sour taste of rhubarb is pretty repellent to our equines and they’ll generally avoid eating it, even if you give it to them.

Rhubarb leaves and other parts of the plant are not edible and should be avoided humans and most animals. If your horse managed to munch some rhubarb leaves, they may suffer from gastrointestinal illness such as stomach cramps, vomiting and Diarrhea, as well as other symptoms such as drooling and lethargy.

However, we humans only consume the stems and stalks of rhubarb plants. We can’t have the leaves or other parts of the plant, because it’ll make us very sick too.) So is the edible stem safer for our steeds to eat?

Not really. of course, the stems are safer for them to eat than the leaves because they aren’t nearly as poisonous. In fact, some horses might eat a bit of stalk and be fine, or suffer from mild GI upset.

If your horse manages to eat some rhubarb, watch them closely to make sure they are not showing any signs of sickness and take them to the veterinary if they become unwell.

Can Horses Eat Raw Rhubarb?

Raw rhubarb

No, Horses should avoid eating raw rhubarb. Although it’s a natural whole food without any additives, it’s not the healthiest or the most enjoyable treat for horses. In fact, raw rhubarb is likely to cause gut ache and gastrointestinal upset to them.

Can Horses Eat Cooked Rhubarb?

Cooked rhubarb

Although cooking usually makes foods safer and more palatable, it doesn’t make rhubarb any safer for our equines. Your horse can not eat cooked rhubarb, because it’s just as likely to make them sick as raw rhubarb.

In addition, we usually cook rhubarb with lots of sugar to make it more palatable, and refined sugar isn’t good for horses. If consumed in excess, sugar can lead to hyperactivity in the short term, and tooth decay, weight gain and diabetes in the long term.

Rhubarb is also known for being baked in crumbles, but the extra sugar and spices in these tasty desserts aren’t good for your equine.

Are Rhubarb Leaves Poisonous To Horses?

Yes, rhubarb leaves are the most poisonous part of the plant to horses. because it has the highest concentration of calcium oxalate crystals.

Can Horses Eat Rhubarb Stalks?

The leaves are very dangerous for horses, however can horses eat rhubarb stalks?

The stalks are not as dangerous to horses as the leaves, but they also contain calcium oxalates in them. What happens when your horse eats the soluble calcium oxalates is, it binds with your horse’s calcium which cause their calcium levels to experience a sudden drop.

This is why in some cases some horses suffer from acute renal failure.

To be safe, keep your steed away from rhubarb plants as much as you can. Even the smallest amount is dangerous for them.

Is Rhubarb Good for Horses?


Although it is a veggie and it does provide some minerals and vitamins, rhubarb isn’t actually a nutritious food.

Sure, it provides a decent amount of calcium and vitamin K1 in its stalks, however the calcium is in oxalate form which means it can’t be absorbed by your horse’s body. Actually, it can cause more harm than good, which we will discuss in the next section.

Vitamin K1 is essential to maintain the ability of horses’ blood to coagulate and clot properly. But, the quantity in rhubarb are very small compared to other foods such as broccoli, kale and beef liver. Even pork chops and chicken provide more vitamin K compared to rhubarb! And they’re likely far more appetizing for your horse!

With rhubarb, there is a big risk that your horse will get sick if he eat it. And considering the limited nutritional benefits of this veggie, I’d say it is not worth it at all. There’s of course far healthier and tastier snacks out there for them to enjoy!

Is Rhubarb Poisonous to Horses?

Rhubarb have mild to moderate toxicity levels to animals, including horses. This is because rhubarb includes calcium oxalate crystals which are an irritant to our equines. This substance can irritate your horse’s mouth and lead to pain and swelling, as well as negatively impacting the digestive system, kidneys and bladder.

The oxalate crystals bind together to form what is called the kidney stones or bladder stones. Calcium oxalate kidney stones and bladder stones are commonly found in horses. Avoiding oxalate-rich foods such as rhubarb and spinach in your horse’s diet will aid them to prevent this bad problem and if your steed has suffered from bladder or kidney stones in the past, they have to be on a special diet to prevent the problem from reoccurring.

In some cases, consuming a big amount of rhubarb or any other foods and plants that contain calcium oxalates can lead to kidney failure which can be fatal.

But, the stems of rhubarb have fewer crystals than the other parts of the plant. That’s why some horses can eat a bit of rhubarb stem and be fine. Meanwhile, the leaves include a lot of those pesky crystals and are poisonous to both people and horses.

If your horse eats rhubarb, they can become ill and may show the following symptoms:

  • Excess drooling
  • Changes in thirst or urination levels
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Dilated pupils
  • Discolored or bloody urine
  • Ataxia
  • Tremors

In addition, It can irritate your horse’s insides and upset your horse’s skin too. If your equine rubs up against a rhubarb plant, especially if the plant is broken and leaking sap, the minuscule crystals can jab into their skin and lead to irritation and itching. If your steed has bounced through some rhubarb plants and seems uncomfortable and scratchy, it’s best to give them a gentle bath.

If you grow rhubarb in your garden, try to make sure it’s kept out of reach of your horse who may try munching the leaves like a personal salad buffet.

Recap: Can Horses Eat Rhubarb?


Your horse cannot eat rhubarb because it will probably make them sick, plus, it doesn’t offer much nutrition for them anyway. The tangy taste of rhubarb isn’t enjoyable for horses either, so they probably won’t eat it even if you give it to them!

That said, some horses may eat a little bit of rhubarb stem and be fine. This is because the stem is edible and less likely to cause them illness than other parts of the plant. But your steed should never eat the leaves or other parts of a rhubarb plant because it will probably make them very ill.

Rather than allowing your horse to snack on rhubarb, which isn’t nutritious and can be dangerous, feed them a complete and balanced meal.

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