Are You Feeding Your Horse Any Of These 12 Potentially Hazardous Ingredients?

In Care by HorseMom Mary15 Comments

12 Ingredients You Will Never Want To See On
Any Horse Supplement Label…

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I believe you are feeding these chemicals at your own Risk

Most people feed their horses the same feed or supplement every day for years, sometimes year after year. Ingredients in some of these products are harmful.

It may not immediately hurt your horse, but eating them day in, and day out could end up causing serious and unnecessary health problems.

Unknowingly feeding your horse chemicals may be the reason why he or she may be having the issues they are experiencing.


Ammonium hydroxide’s found in many industrial products and cleaners such as:

  • flooring strippers
  • brick cleaners
  • and cements.

Although ammonium and ammonia are essential to proper kidney function and maintaining an acid-base balance within the body, chronic high levels of the chemical can ruin delicate blood vessels and cause harm on the cellular level.

Ammonium hydroxide as one of the key ingredients (ammonia gas) used as the in making “pink slime”. (McDonald’s, Burger King and Taco Bell restaurants have recently stopped this practice)

I’m with all the millions of people that boycotted “Pink SLIME“.

Ammonia may be used as a de-foaming agent used in the manufacture of paper and paperboard.

img-5You will find it in
Red Cell®
By Farnam Companies, Inc. 

Other Declared Ingredients:
Water, Ferric Sulfate, Ammonium Hydroxide, Citric Acid, Choline Chloride, Zinc Sulfate, Sorbitol, Magnesium Sulfate, Potassium Chloride, Vitamin E supplement, Vitamin A Acetate, D-activated Animal Sterol irradiated (source of Vitamin D-3), Copper Sulfate, Xanthan Gum, Manganese Sulfate, Thiamine Hydrochloride, Calcium Pantothenate, Saccharin Sodium, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Cobalt Sulfate, Menadione Sodium Bisulfate complex, Sodium Benzoate (a preservative), Niacinamide, Sodium Bicarbonate, Biotin, Sodium Selenite, Kelp Extract, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Ethylenediamine Dihydriodide, Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Artificial Cherry Flavoring, FD&C Red #40 and Potassium Sorbate (a preservative).

Ammonia can be mixed with water and sold as ammonium hydroxide, ammonia poses health risks and hazards that require proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and safe use and handling procedures.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted ammonium hydroxide status as a GRAS or Generally Recognized as Safe, substance in 1974. Imagine that!

References For #1

ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS / food additives

Like artificial coloring, artificial flavoring’s often seen in seriously processed feeds and supplements.

These products are so deficient of naturally occurring flavor that cheap synthetic versions impersonate the real thing.
Artificial flavors try to fool the horse into “tasting” apple or cherry or carrot while saving manufacturers money and masking the “icky” taste.

Side effects include allergic reactions, unexplained weight gain, bloating and flatulence. You may also see episodes of weakness, skin rashes, dermatitis, eczema, can affect enzymes, RNA and thyroid tumors.

nimYou will find it in
Nimble Supreme
by Adeptus Animal Nutrition, Inc 

Other Declared Ingredients:
Corn distiller’s dried grain with solubles, glucosamine HCl, dextrose, stabilized flax meal, hydrolyzed collagen, ascorbic acid (stabilized), zinc-methionine complex, manganese amino acid complex, copper amino acid complex, silicon dioxide, artificial flavors, propionic acid & mixed tocopherols as preservatives

Also found in:
SmartSupplements by SmartPak 

Other Declared Ingredients:
Active Dry Yeast, Brewers Yeast, Citric Acid, Coconut Oil, dl-Alpha Tocopherol, Distillers Grains with Solubles, Dried Aspergillus Niger Fermentation Extract, Dried Aspergillus Oryzae Fermentation Extract, Dried Bacillus Subtilis Fermentation Extract, Dried Enterococcus Faecium Extract, Dried Enterococcus Lactis Fermentation Extract, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Extract, Dried Lactobacillus Lactis Fermentation Extract, Fenugreek Seed, Fructooligosaccharides, Linseed Meal, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Rice Bran, Vegetable Oil (cold pressed), Whole Sweet Whey, Yeast Extract (Mannanoligosaccharides).

These flavors can be made from hundreds of chemicals.  

Some imitation vanilla flavorings use ingredients from petroleum or paper-mill waste.

The presence of many fake flavorings indicates that the product is compensating for real flavor found in real foods, herbs and plants.

Artificial flavorings may contain substances such as hydrolyzed vegetable protein or monosodium glutamate.
Manufacturers have the right to make flavorings a trade secret, giving little to no information about the actual flavoring ingredients.
Ask yourself, what are they trying to do by adding artificial flavors and why?

References For #2


Magnesium stearate has its downsides, namely unfavorably affecting and suppressing the immune system.
Previous research has shown that stearic acid suppresses T cells—your natural killer cells—which are a key factor of your immune system.

Many supplement makers are adding (magnesium stearate) as a flow agents into their manufacturing. The crucial reason is to keep ingredients from sticking to equipment during mixing. Manufacturing becomes quicker and cheaper.
Not using them merely adds to manufacturing costs and there is plainly no rationale why this ingredient is added for your horses advantage.

img-9 You will find it in
Cosamin DS
Other Declared Ingredients:
Sodium (as bound to Sodium Chondroitin Sulfate), Vitamin C (as Manganese Ascorbate), Manganese (as Manganese Ascorbate), High Purity Glucosamine HCl 99%, Low Molecular weight Sodium Chondroitin Sulfate 95%, Mixed Glycosaminoglycan, gelatin, water, magnesium stearate, and titanium dioxide.


Also found in
 Cosequin® HA + Cosequin® HA + ASU Treats

By Nutramax Laboratories

According to a study, stearic acid causes the collapse of cell membrane dependability which, ultimately, can destroy cell function.

Magnesium stearate might be on the verge of getting axed from supplements altogether.
For companies manufacturing without magnesium stearate, it is evidence that they’ve been correct all along.

References For #3


BHA keeps fats from becoming rancid. BHT also prevents oxidative rancidity of fats.
It preserves food odor, color, and flavor.

The oxidative characteristics and/or metabolites of BHA and BHT may contribute to carcinogenicity or tumorigenicity;

There is evidence that certain persons may have difficulty metabolizing BHA and BHT, resulting in health and behavior changes.

BHA and BHT have been found by some studies to cause cancer in rats.

img-11You will find it in
Weight Builder
By Farnam Companies, Inc.

Other Declared Ingredients:
Maize distiller’s grains with solubles dehydrated, heat stabilized flax meal, calcium carbonate, partially hydrogenated vegetable fat, propionic acid, mixed tocopherols (a natural preservative), BHT/BHA (as a preservative), artificial flavor.

Also found in
Hard Keeper Solution

By Vita-Flex Nutrition

Other Declared Ingredients:
Corn distiller’s dried grains with solubles, soybean oil, ground flax, calcium carbonate, Saccharomyces cerevisiae fermentation product dehydrated, Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product dehydrated, Enterococcus faecium fermentation product dehydrated, Lactobacillus fermentum fermentation product dehydrated, Bifidobacterium longum fermentation product dehydrated, Lactobacillus casei fermentation product dehydrated, Lactobacillus plantarum fermentation product dehydrated, Pediococcus acidilactici fermentation product dehydrated, dried Aspergillus niger fermentation product dehydrated, Trichoderma longibrachiatum fermentation product dehydrated, Bacillus subtilis fermentation product dehydrated, dextrose, natural and artificial flavors; BHA, BHT, Citric Acid and propyl gallate (as preservatives).

Also found in

Joint Combo Hoof & Coat

By Horse Health Products

Other Declared Ingredients:
Alfalfa meal, dehydrated; artificial flavorBHT and BHA (preservatives), calcium carbonate, calcium propionate, calcium sulfate, cane molasses, heat-stabilized flax meal, soybean oil, dehydrated; wheat middlings.

Also found in

By Farnam Companies, Inc. 

Other Declared Ingredients:
dehydrated alfalfa meal, wheat middlings, sodium acetate, vegetable oil, dicalcium phosphate, dried beet molasses, ammonium lignosulfonate, magnesium sulfate, calcium propionate, potassiumsulfate, ferrous sulfate, zinc sulfate, ascorbic acid (source of vitamin C), choline chloride, artificial flavor, manganese oxide, zinc oxide, copper sulfate, niacin, calcium pantothenate, vitamin E supplement, riboflavin, vitamin A supplement, potassium iodate, cobalt carbonate, sodium selenite, folic acid, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, BHT, BHA (preservatives).

Additional Reading

References For #4


Many manufacturers use sodium benzoate to prevent mold.

This chemical can damage mitochondria in cells, which leads to neuro-degenerative diseases.
Sodium benzoate has the ability to deprive the cells of oxygen, break down the immune system and cause cancer.

The FDA says it is safe because the amount used to preserve foods is low, but do not ever combine it with vitamin C or E as this causes benzene to be formed.

This is dangerous.

Benzene is a known carcinogen, which means it causes cancer.

Sodium benzoate is the cheapest mold inhibitor on the market.

img-13You will find it in
by Finish Line

Other Declared Ingredients:
Corn gluten, salt, potassium chloride, calcium lactate, magnesium sulfate, thiamine mononitrate, natural and artificial flavors, sodium benzoate.

Liquid: Water, salt, potassium chloride, calcium lactate, natural and artificial flavors, saccharin sodium, thiamine monoitrate, magnesium sulfate, sodium benzoate, xanthan gum.

Also found in
B-Kalm Paste
by Farnam Companies, Inc.

Other Declared Ingredients:
Dextrose, ethyl alcohol, ground limestone, potassium sorbate, sodium bentonite, sodium benzoate, sodium saccharin, thiamine hydrochloride with artificial flavor and color, water, xantham gum.

Acidic foods tend to grow bacteria, mold and yeast more easily than non-acidic foods, so the sodium benzoate extends the shelf life while it shortens human life.

References For #5

Go to Part 2 of the Horse Supplement Dirty dozen

There is an alternative….

Organic & Natural Horse Supplements Designed For Your Horses Life Stage


References Listed By Ingredient

Links with short snippet



REFERENCES – #3 Magnesium Sterate


    In addition to causing hyperactivity in children, BHT and BHA are considered carcinogens by the United States Department of Health and Human Services. Yet the FDA allows them to be used in foods?!  What’s wrong with this picture???
  •  However, the same chemical properties which make BHA and BHT excellent preservatives may also be implicated in health effects.The oxidative characteristics and/or metabolites of BHA and BHT may contribute to carcinogenicity or tumorigenicity; however the same reactions may combat oxidative stress.
    BHA induces in animals tumours of the forestomach, which are dose dependent, whereas BHT induces liver tumours in long-term experiments

REFERENCES – #5 Sodium benzoate

There is an alternative….

Organic & Natural Horse Supplements Designed For Your Horses Life Stage

Go to Part 2 of the Horse Supplement Dirty dozen


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  1. img-15

    This is some really disturbing news. How can people be so downright ruthless, greedy and inhumane to animals, especially majestic beasts such as horses. I guess it is not at all that different from some of the harmful chemicals that go into human products. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that money is the ruler of most people – certainly for big business. If a chemical or preservative generates millions of dollars, who it harms is secondary.

    1. img-16

      Hi Robert- I hear you. But it doesn’t have to be that way. THanks to the internet now it’s possible to get the word out and to find alternatives. Personally… I’m going more natural and organic if possible for myself. Mary took that 1 step further and developed organic and natural horse supplements for horses. I get the benefit tho’, the fridge is now full of good stuff instead of all the processed stuff.

      To be serious for a second, I believe you can do a good job, help, offer a good product and still be able to do it without adding all these nasty chemicals.

      Just one horse owners opinion….

  2. img-17

    When a commercial horse feed company representative talks about causing an imbalance of nutrients by feeding a supplement in addition to their product, they’re talking about “doubling up by feeding the full recommended amount of fortified grain on the bag as well as the full recommended amount of multi-vitamin/mineral supplement. So I guess it is not just certain dangerous chemicals that are the danger, but dispensing the wrong amounts can be just as harmful to a horse.

    1. img-18

      Hi Marlene- you are on-point and certainly reading our minds. I couldn’t agree with you more. It’s just too easy to hurt horses by over supplementing them. Truth be told, that’s exactly why we developed the life stage concept with the 1 supplement designed just for that specific life stage.

      I don’t want to sound like a commercial so let me stop there.

      But what I do want to say is BRAVO for seeing that and sharing.

      The more educated horse owners are (all consumers for that matter) the better.

  3. Pingback: What Vitamins Does A Horse Need?

  4. img-19

    I had no idea that there were risks involved with giving a horse supplements, it’s the same with everything including dogs and humans…

    I thought that supplements were supposed to be good for them and help them to stay healthy not to hurt them eventually.

    It’s another thing that we have to be up on!

    1. img-20 Author

      Hi Anthony- Good to hear from you. Unfortunately you’re right. Sometimes in our quest to take the best care of our babies we can hurt them. Certainly at one point with the right supplement or the right combination of supplements you could even kill them.

      My challenge tho’… As difficult as killing would be. (I don’t know if I would ever forgive myself) It’s easier to make our friends sick, uncomfortable or just downright cranky. All the things we don’t want to do and all the things we would probably blame our horses for…

      When the facts are, we the owners are directly responsible for the problems.

      It’s not your fault. It’s too easy to fall into the slick advertising, the incorrect information and all the miss-information out there.

      That’s why we follow the NRC and we went through the effort of developing supplements for specific life stages.


      It’s not easy out there, so our goal was to make it easy on the horse and easier for the human.

      That’s always been our goal. Anthony if you have any questions just give me a shout.

  5. img-21

    I can’t believe that they would put this stuff on the shelf for horses in the first place, if it ultimately would hurt the horse than they shouldn’t manufacturer it in the first place. This is good news to have out to the owners of horses so thank you for doing this post. Keep up the great work you started here it will help a lot of people.

  6. img-22

    I would like to add a flax seed supplement to my OTTB’s diet. I am looking for one that has flax seed and calcium in it. There are so many supplements but they seem to have a little of everything and I really just want the flax seed and calcium combo. Does anyone have any recommendations, or suggestions on what they use that have the two ingredients with maybe a couple of more if that is the only combination available?

  7. img-23

    Given how much those particular supplements can benefit the average horse, it’s surprising that there aren’t more products out there that combine them in one supplement (although it’s not necessarily cheaper than supplementing all those separately, so seeing it all combined into one product can give a bit of sticker shock). I don’t see why the manufacturers of horse supplements don’t follow the example of human performance enhancing supplements. We are trying to accomplish the same thing: improve performance in both horses as well as humans.

  8. img-24

    My friend and I, both experienced horse people, have recently been involved in the rescue of two badly emaciated horses. We learned there is more to horse rehabilitation than giving them some tender loving care and access to green grass.

    You have to be careful. Many times if you overfeed or over supplement an emaciated horse you can actually kill it. In many cases all that love and attention in the form of feeding hurts rather than helps.

    If you haven’t guessed I’m against over supplementing in general. That’s why I had to comment here. Kudos for doing an all in one supplement.

  9. img-25

    I’ve noticed that my horse has been lacking in energy a little over these past few weeks. He is a 13 year old gypsy cob, and I ride him probably 4-5 times a week. I generally do a little of everything, so walk, trot, canter, and jumping if there’s something to jump.. I was just wondering if you think he should be fed hard foods or not. I’ve had several opinions, including supplements.

  10. img-26

    I have recently bought a Likit mineral lick for a pony i’m getting in 6 months. Would the lick last that long, or will it go off? Someone said they doubt it would go off but it should have a use by date on it. My horse doesn’t “Likit” though. He can eat one in about 30 seconds so I don’t use them. Also they are full of sugar so can hype them up. A much better one to use is the himalayan rock salt lick.

  11. img-27

    I’m overwhelmed…so what can we feed…supplements wise for joints…?

  12. img-28

    I only put my mare on two and now its one supplement unless she looses weight again. Yes she is on a smartpak supplement and its actually helped her out quite a bit especially right now with her arthritis as well as other problems she has been having including her weight which ive had her on a weight supplement cool Calories 100. So first don’t attack me, she’s a picky eater so im already limited supplement wise to what i can give her and since almost all of the supplements have what you put as dangerous that makes it impossible to actually give her any joint supplements which she needs in order to be comfortable when i work her especially since i am increasing her work load.

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