Toxic Shavings for Horses

Are you in search of a bedding product, but are worried about toxic shavings for horses?

Certain types of wood can be poisonous for horses and can often be the cause of a host of different health problems.

Wood Shavings are made from all different types of wood. Some are specifically produced for horses, whereas some are simply a by-product of other wood-crafting.

Horses can have sensitivity or allergic reactions to particular types of wood, that’s why it’s so important to know exactly what’s in your shavings.

It could only take a few minutes of exposure for a horse to develop a reaction, and while they can vary, common reactions include hair loss, skin irritation and swollen legs.

In more severe cases the reaction can even be fatal.

Below is a detailed list of the best and worst types of wood to make shavings with.

Toxic Shavings for Horses - Are Your Wood Shavings Poisonous? Savvy Horsewoman

Toxic and Safe Shavings for Horses


Commonly Pine, Fir, and other woods are used to make animal bedding. Typically softwood shavings are the
cheapest and they’re often sufficiently fragrant to mask any unwanted odors.

However, in some cases, if Pine is too green, some sap may remain which can irritate the horses skin.

Softwood Shavings are without a doubt the safest and most popular wood shavings available on the market. 

Black Walnut

Black Walnut can be extremely toxic to horses and should NEVER be used as horse bedding. Even short periods of exposure or contact can cause devastating results.

Reactions to Black Walnut can include hair loss, fever, irregular pulse, skin irritation and in the most severe cases reactions can be fatal.

More From Savvy Horsewoman:  Hunter Braids: How to Make Yours Brilliant


Sawdust can often be the only bedding product available, although we wouldn’t advise using it.

Sawdust is made up of very fine wood particles, and the problem with this is that the finer the particles the more dust there will be. Dust should be kept to a minimum as it presents a health risk to both horses and humans alike.

Ask your supplier about the dust content of your shavings.


Maple can be particularly toxic to horses, especially red maple, and to add to this, horses particularly enjoy the taste of maple leaves.

Maple should NEVER be used for shavings, and what’s more maple trees should be trimmed so that the leaves are not accessible to horses, both on the tree and off.

Fallen and Wilted Maple leaves are among the most toxic for horses, so make sure you clear up any fallen leaves to prevent problems.


Wood Pellets are often a popular choice for when it comes to horse bedding, the kiln-dried chips often have higher absorbency levels and they’re also environmentally friendly. Wood Pellets will also typically compost much quicker than straw or wood shavings.


Cedar wood is commonly used within shavings, however be aware that although cedar smells good it also has a large oil content which can irritate the lungs of your horse. Cedar Bedding should never be used for smaller pets such as guinea pigs, rabbits or hamsters, this is because the oil content is way too much for their small lungs.


Here’s a quick review of toxic shavings for horses:

More From Savvy Horsewoman:  Horses and Ticks - What to Do After a Bite

Never Use:

  • Black Walnut
  • Maple

Use with Caution:

  • Cedar
  • Sawdust

Best to Use:

  • Softwood
  • Pellets

Toxic Shavings for Horses - Are Your Wood Shavings Poisonous? Savvy HorsewomanThe above list will help you to source only the highest quality non-toxic products. If you are still unsure about whether your Wood Shavings are suitable for your horse, or if you would like to find a supplier who only supplies the highest quality wood shavings, then why not contact Nordic Wood Shavings?

 Toxic Shavings for Horses - Are Your Wood Shavings Poisonous? Savvy Horsewoman


  1. Kathy
    January 8, 2019 / 8:40 pm

    Can you tell me more information about Hemp Bedding for horses? Is it Safe? any benefits or hazards for a horse?

  2. Brenda G
    May 14, 2021 / 12:29 pm

    I would like to know more about Hickory trees. I understand the nuts and leaves are bad for horses. I have taken down almost 6 acres to prep for horse barn/pasture/paddocks. Many of the stumps are Hickory. Is it safe for the hickory stump grindings to be left in the fields/pasture area? Or is the wood grindings toxic to horses too?

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.