Horse Shavings - Wood Bedding That is Toxic for Horses
Horse Shavings - Beware of Toxic Bedding

A List of Good and Bad Shavings for the Stall

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Beware, some kinds of wood are poisonous to horses and can cause health problems. Here is a list of good and bad shavings for the stall.

Shavings are made from different types of wood. Some are made especially for use in horse stalls, while others are by-products from wood mills. It's important to know what is being used to make the shavings, since some horses can have sensitivity or allergic reactions to particular types of wood. It may only take a few minutes of exposure for a horse to develop a reaction, so don't use shavings until you have investigated their source, and do not take a chance if you suspect they are made from an undesirable type of wood. While allergic reactions vary, they can include hair loss, skin irritation, swollen legs, and even founder.


Pine is the most desirable type of wood shaving since most horses don't react to this wood source. However, if the pine is too green, some sap may remain which irritates the horse's skin.


Cedar is another wood that is popular. Although cedar smells good, it has high oil content which can irritate the lungs. Some horses become sensitive to cedar.


Oak shavings are a good choice for shavings but is available only in areas where hard woods are milled.

Black Walnut

Walnut must never be used for horse bedding because it can be extremely toxic and even a short period of exposure or contact can cause disastrous results. Reactions can include hair loss, skin irritation, fever, irregular pulse and even founder.


Another wood that is sometimes used in wood shavings in the southern United States is Cyprus. However, some horses are sensitive to Cyprus and react with skin irritations and swollen legs.


Maple, particularly red maple, can be toxic to horses and should not be used for shavings.

Black Cherry

Black cherry can also cause reactions and can be toxic if eaten.


Though it is not preferable, sometimes sawdust is the only bedding product available. The problem with sawdust is that it is made up of very fine wood particles. The finer the particles, the dustier the stall. Every time your horse moves, he raises some dust and inhales it. Dust should be kept to a minimum because once inhaled it compromises the lungs, it can cause irritation to the respiratory tract and make the horse more prone to infections.

It's not only unhealthy for the horse but also unhealthy for you to breath. You should wear a paper surgical mask while moving sawdust and shavings, both contain dust.

Another problem with small shavings and sawdust is that the tiny particles can get into the horse's eyes and cause irritation and infection. So, if you use these products check your horse's eyes frequently.

Note: Here's a tip for pet rat, rabbit, guinea pig (cavy), mouse and hamster fans, never use Cedar or Pine bedding for small pets. The oil that smells so good in the bedding to us, is way too strong for their little lungs and respiratory system. Aspen is the safest wood bedding for small pets. An environmentally friendly, dust free, recycled paper bedding, like CareFresh is also another good option.

For keeping pets healthy the natural way, we recommend using Pet Remedy Charts, a Step-by-Step Holistic Home Healthcare System that will enable you to naturally treat your pet at home (without drugs) using safe, side effect free healing methods for
dogs, cats, horses, or birds.

Disclaimer: The information herein is intended for educational purposes only. It is not meant to be used as a diagnosis, prescription or treatment, nor is it meant to replace the medical services of a veterinary professional.
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