Are Your Horse Treats Safe?

In Feed by HorseMom MaryLeave a Comment

When I’m surfing the web I see horse moms myself included asking;

“What types of foods can we give our horses for a treat”?


Carrots - Horse TreatsI came across an article by Dr. Juliet Getty about feeding common—and sometimes not so common—foods as treats.

We all know horses love carrots but what about french fries, garlic bread, and even chocolate.

What treats are safe and what treats are not?

Can all horses have the same treats as other horses?

Dr. Getty points out that some treats are generally safe, some treats are sometimes safe, and some are never, ever good for horses. As she points out,

“Horses trust humans for their care. Choose wisely.”

Safe to feed, generally:

Apples Apricots (without the pit) Bananas (including the peel)
Beets Berries
Carrots Celery
Cherries Coconut
Dates (pitted) Grapes (and raisins)
Grapefruit Lettuce
Lemons Limes
Mango Melons
Oranges Peaches
Pears Peanuts (roasted, never raw)
Pineapple Plums
Squash Sweet potatoes
Tangerines Watermelon (including the rind)

Avoid these foods for ALL horses, ALWAYS:

Chocolate- Like dogs, horses are sensitive to the toxic chemical theobromine found in chocolate.

Milk and milk products- Do not feed ice cream, cheese, and even yogurt. Grown horses are lactose intolerant.

As Dr. Getty cautions, “Your horse will get diarrhea and,” she adds with a twinkle, “he will not like you.”


Other potentially toxic fruits and vegetables include:

Broccoli Cauliflower
Cabbage Tomatoes
Peppers Raw potatoes
Onions Garlic (raw)
Spinach Avocados

Special Circumstances —
Choices for horses with insulin resistance, Cushing’s or risk of laminitis:

  • Starch and sugar are out of the question for some horses.
  • Fat deposits along the crest of the neck, rump, shoulders, or back, indicate insulin resistance.
  • Starchy or sugary treats will raise insulin to dangerous levels, increasing laminitis risk.
  • Horses with Cushing’s disease also require a low starch/low sugar diet.

Avoid these: Apples Bread Candy Carrots Cooked Potatoes Commercial treats made with cereal grains (oats, corn, barley, rice, wheat) and molasses

Better: low sugar/low starch choices: Alfalfa cubes or pellets (surprisingly low in sugar) Apple peels Watermelon rinds Commercial products that are low in starch/sugar

Final Horse Treat Thought…

Treats with something extra!

Not worth feeding.

Some commercial treats have added vitamins and minerals.

There is a risk of either feeding too many nutrients if the horse already gets a fortified feed, or not feeding enough if the treats are meant as a nutritional supplement.

Probiotics are added to some treats, but their microbial concentration is too low to make a difference, unless the horse was given the whole bag.

If you know other foods that are good or not so good for horses please post them.

I’d love to hear your thoughts….



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