What Can’T Horses Eat?

While horses are typically known for their voracious appetites, it’s important to be aware of what they should not consume. Certain foods can be toxic or harmful to horses, potentially leading to serious health issues or even fatal consequences. From poisonous plants to certain human foods, it’s crucial for horse owners and caretakers to be well-informed about what items should be kept far away from their equine companions. By understanding what horses can’t eat, we can ensure their well-being and prevent any potentially harmful situations.

what can't horses eat

Toxic Plants to Avoid Feeding Horses: Protecting Your Equine Friends

When it comes to caring for horses, their diet plays a critical role in their overall health and well-being. While it may be tempting to feed your equine friends a variety of plants, it is essential to understand that not all plants are safe for horses to consume. In fact, there are several toxic plants that can be harmful and even fatal to horses if ingested.

In this section, we will discuss some of the most common toxic plants that horse owners should be aware of and avoid feeding their horses. By familiarizing yourself with these plants and taking proactive measures to prevent exposure, you can help ensure the safety and health of your beloved equines.

Dangerous Plants for Horses

1. Bracken Fern: Bracken fern contains a toxin called ptaquiloside, which can cause thiamine deficiency in horses. Ingesting bracken fern can lead to weight loss, weakness, and neurological issues in horses.

2. Yew: Yew is a highly toxic plant that can be lethal to horses. All parts of the plant, including the leaves, bark, and berries, contain a toxic compound called taxine. Ingesting even a small amount of yew can cause sudden death in horses.

3. Red Maple: Red maple leaves are toxic to horses, particularly when wilted. Ingesting red maple leaves can lead to a condition called hemolytic anemia, which can cause fever, dark urine, and jaundice in horses.

4. Black Walnut: Black walnut shavings or bark can be toxic to horses. The toxin found in black walnut, known as juglone, can cause laminitis, a painful and potentially debilitating condition in horses.

5. Water Hemlock: Water hemlock is considered one of the most toxic plants in North America. Ingesting even a small amount of water hemlock can be fatal to horses. Symptoms of water hemlock poisoning include drooling, seizures, and respiratory distress.

Preventing Exposure to Toxic Plants

As a responsible horse owner, it is crucial to take preventative measures to protect your equine friends from exposure to toxic plants. Here are some steps you can take:

  1. Inspect your pastures and paddocks regularly to identify any toxic plants.
  2. Remove any hazardous plants from your horse’s environment.
  3. Ensure that your horse has access to safe and nutritious forage, such as high-quality hay or grass.
  4. Consult with a veterinarian or equine nutritionist to develop a balanced diet plan for your horse.
  5. Educate yourself and your staff members on the identification of toxic plants.
  6. Establish clear guidelines for visitors and ensure they are aware of the plants that should not be fed to horses.

In Summary

Feeding horses the wrong plants can have severe consequences on their health. It is essential for horse owners to be knowledgeable about the toxic plants that should be avoided. By taking proactive measures to prevent exposure and providing a safe and nutritious diet, you can protect your equine friends and promote their overall well-being.

Common Human Foods That Are Harmful to Horses: A Comprehensive List

Horses are beautiful and majestic creatures that require proper nutrition and care to stay healthy. While it may be tempting to share some of our favorite human foods with them, it is important to remember that horses have different dietary needs and digestive systems. Some foods that are safe for us can be extremely harmful to horses. To ensure the well-being of our equine friends, it is essential to be aware of the common human foods that can pose a risk to their health. In this section, we will provide a comprehensive list of such foods.

1. Chocolate

Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, contains theobromine, a substance that is toxic to horses. Ingesting even small amounts of chocolate can lead to various health issues such as increased heart rate, muscle tremors, and even seizures. It is best to keep all chocolate products away from horses to avoid any potential harm.

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2. Avocado

Avocados are known for their numerous health benefits for humans, but they can be detrimental to horses. The fruit contains a toxin called persin, which can cause cardiac distress and fluid accumulation in the lungs of horses. It is advisable to never feed avocados or any products containing avocados to horses.

3. Onions and Garlic

While onions and garlic provide flavor to our meals, they can be harmful to horses if consumed in large quantities. These vegetables contain compounds that can lead to anemia and damage the red blood cells in horses, causing weakness and fatigue. It is important to avoid feeding horses any foods that contain onions or garlic, including seasonings and sauces.

4. Caffeine

Just like in chocolate, caffeine is present in various beverages like coffee and tea. Caffeine can have a stimulating effect on horses, causing increased heart rate and restlessness. It is crucial to keep horses away from caffeine-containing products to prevent any potential health issues.

5. Alcohol

Alcohol is toxic to horses and can have severe consequences if ingested. It can damage their liver and negatively impact their coordination, leading to dangerous situations. Horses should never be given any form of alcohol, and it is essential to store alcoholic beverages securely out of their reach.

6. High-Sugar Foods

Horses have sensitive digestive systems that are not designed to handle high amounts of sugar. Foods such as candy, soda, and sugary treats can cause digestive upset, obesity, and insulin resistance in horses. It is crucial to limit their intake of high-sugar foods to maintain their overall health.

7. Bread and Pasta

While bread and pasta may seem harmless, they can cause digestive issues in horses. These foods are high in starch, which can disrupt the delicate balance of bacteria in the horse’s gut and lead to colic or other digestive disorders. It is best to avoid feeding horses bread or pasta.

8. Processed Foods and Junk Food

Processed foods and junk food items, such as chips, cookies, and fast food, are not suitable for equine consumption. These foods are typically high in unhealthy fats, sodium, and artificial additives, which can be detrimental to a horse’s health. It is important to stick to a balanced diet consisting of nutritious horse feed and forage.

9. Moldy or Spoiled Food

Moldy or spoiled food of any kind should never be fed to horses. Consuming rotten food can lead to digestive issues, colic, and even poisoning. It is crucial to regularly inspect hay, grains, and any other feed for signs of mold or spoilage, and discard any contaminated food immediately.

In summary, while it may be tempting to share meals and treats with our equine companions, it is essential to remember the unique dietary needs of horses. To ensure their well-being, it is crucial to avoid feeding them any human foods that could be harmful. By being aware of the common foods listed above and providing horses with a balanced diet specifically designed for their needs, we can help keep them healthy, happy, and thriving.

Feeding Frenzy: Foods That Can Cause Digestive Issues in Horses

Horses are magnificent creatures that require a proper diet to maintain their health and well-being. However, not all foods are suitable for these gentle giants. Some foods can actually cause digestive issues in horses, leading to discomfort and even serious health problems. As a responsible horse owner, it’s crucial to be aware of the potential culprits and avoid feeding them to your equine companion.

1. Rich and Fatty Foods

Horses have delicate digestive systems that are not designed to handle rich and fatty foods. Feeding them large quantities of foods like butter, oil, or high-fat grains can lead to digestive upset such as colic or diarrhea. It’s important to stick to a balanced diet that includes primarily forage and concentrates specifically formulated for horses.

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2. Excessive Grain Consumption

Grains are an essential part of a horse’s diet, but excessive consumption can lead to digestive issues. When horses eat large quantities of grain in a short period of time, it can overwhelm their digestive system and disrupt the delicate balance of their gut flora. This can result in conditions like gastric ulcers or colic. It’s crucial to follow feeding guidelines and consult with a equine nutritionist to determine the appropriate amount of grain for your horse.

3. Moldy or Spoiled Hay

Hay is a staple in a horse’s diet and provides essential nutrients. However, feeding moldy or spoiled hay to horses can have serious consequences. Moldy hay can contain toxins that can damage a horse’s digestive system and cause respiratory issues. It’s important to inspect hay carefully before feeding it to your horse and to store it in a dry and well-ventilated area.

4. High-Sugar Foods

Horses have a limited ability to process sugar, and consuming high-sugar foods can lead to metabolic disorders such as insulin resistance or laminitis. Avoid feeding your horse sugary treats such as candy, soda, or excessive amounts of fruits. Stick to healthier alternatives like carrots or apples in moderation.

5. Abrupt Diet Changes

Horses have sensitive digestive systems that need time to adjust to changes in their diet. Abruptly changing their feed can disrupt the balance of their gut flora and lead to digestive upset. If you need to change your horse’s diet, do so gradually over a period of several days or weeks, allowing their system to adapt.

6. Toxic Plants

Some plants can be toxic to horses and cause severe digestive issues if ingested. Examples of toxic plants include yew, oleander, bracken fern, and black walnut. It’s crucial to remove these plants from your horse’s grazing area and be knowledgeable about the plants in your surroundings to prevent accidental ingestion.

7. Feeding Schedule Irregularities

Horses are creatures of habit and thrive on routine. Irregular feeding schedules can disrupt their digestive process and lead to issues like gastric ulcers or colic. It’s important to establish a consistent feeding schedule, with regular intervals between meals, to support proper digestion and overall health.

8. Insufficient Water Intake

Water is essential for proper digestion in horses. Insufficient water intake can lead to dehydration and impede the movement of food through their digestive system. Ensure that your horse has access to clean and fresh water at all times, and monitor their water intake to ensure they are adequately hydrated.

In summary, as a horse owner, it’s crucial to be mindful of the foods that can cause digestive issues in horses. Avoid feeding them rich and fatty foods, excessive grains, moldy or spoiled hay, high-sugar foods, or toxic plants. Additionally, maintain a consistent feeding schedule, ensure sufficient water intake, and consult with an equine nutritionist to develop a balanced diet that supports your horse’s digestive health. By taking these precautions, you can help keep your horse happy, healthy, and free from digestive troubles.

Forbidden Treats: Surprising Foods That Horses Should Never Consume

As horse owners, it’s natural for us to want to treat our beloved equine companions with special snacks and treats. However, it’s important to remember that not all foods are safe for horses to consume. In fact, there are several surprising foods that should be strictly avoided due to the potential harm they can cause to our equine friends. In this section, we will explore some forbidden treats that horses should never consume.

1. Chocolate:

While chocolate might be a delicious treat for humans, it can be extremely toxic to horses. Chocolate contains theobromine, a compound that horses cannot metabolize effectively, leading to various health issues. Ingesting chocolate can cause symptoms such as increased heart rate, tremors, and even seizures in horses. It is crucial to keep any chocolate-based treats far away from your equine companion.

2. Avocado:

Avocado is another surprise addition to the list of forbidden treats for horses. Although this fruit is known for its nutritional value for humans, it can be highly toxic to horses. Avocado contains a toxin called persin, which can cause respiratory distress, heart damage, and even death in horses. To keep your horse safe, ensure that they do not have access to avocados or any products containing avocado.

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3. Onions and Garlic:

Onions and garlic, while commonly used in human cooking, should never be given to horses. These foods contain compounds that can lead to a condition called Heinz body anemia in equines. Heinz body anemia can cause severe damage to the red blood cells, leading to weakness, fatigue, and even organ failure. It’s best to avoid feeding any foods that contain onions or garlic to your horse.

4. Caffeine:

Just like in chocolate, caffeine is a stimulant that can have detrimental effects on horses. Caffeine, found in coffee, tea, energy drinks, and some supplements, can cause increased heart rate, restlessness, and even cardiac issues in equines. It’s crucial to keep any caffeine-containing products away from your horse’s reach.

5. Tomatoes:

While tomatoes may seem harmless, they can actually be toxic to horses. Tomatoes belong to the nightshade family and contain a toxic compound called tomatine. Ingesting tomatine can cause digestive upset, weakness, and even paralysis in horses. It’s best to avoid feeding any part of the tomato plant, including the fruit and leaves, to your horse.

6. Persimmons:

Persimmons are delicious fruits enjoyed by humans, but they can be dangerous for horses. Unripe persimmons contain high levels of tannins, which can cause gastrointestinal blockages and internal damage in horses. It’s essential to ensure that your horse does not consume any persimmons or parts of the persimmon tree.

7. Dairy Products:

While some horses may enjoy the taste of dairy products, these should be avoided as well. Horses have limited ability to digest lactose, the sugar found in milk and other dairy products. Feeding your horse dairy products can lead to digestive upset, diarrhea, and discomfort. Stick to equine-approved treats instead.

8. Alcohol:

Alcohol is a definite no-no for horses. Just like in humans, alcohol can have severe effects on the equine system. It can cause liver damage, coordination issues, and even lead to coma or death in horses. Ensure that your horse never has access to any alcoholic beverages.

In summary, when it comes to treating our horses, it’s essential to be aware of the foods that can pose a threat to their health. Chocolate, avocado, onions, garlic, caffeine, tomatoes, persimmons, dairy products, and alcohol should all be strictly avoided when it comes to equine consumption. By prioritizing their safety and well-being, we can ensure that our horses lead long and healthy lives.


What foods are toxic to horses?

Horses should not consume toxic foods such as chocolate, caffeine, onions, garlic, avocados, tomatoes, potatoes, rhubarb, moldy or spoiled feeds, or any plants from the nightshade family.

Are apples safe for horses to eat?

Yes, apples are generally safe for horses to eat. However, it is important to remove the seeds and core as they can be a choking hazard. Feeding apples in moderation is recommended.

Can horses eat grass clippings?

No, horses should not be fed fresh grass clippings. The fermentation process that occurs when grass clippings are stored can lead to a rapid production of gas, causing digestive issues such as colic. It is best to avoid feeding grass clippings to horses altogether.

Conclusion: Wrapping Up In conclusion, it is vital to understand what horses can’t eat to ensure their well-being and health. Certain foods, such as chocolate, caffeine, and onion, are toxic to horses and should be strictly avoided. Feeding a horse with inappropriate grains, like corn or wheat, can lead to digestive issues. Additionally, moldy or spoiled hay can be harmful to horses and should be discarded. Remember, horses have sensitive digestive systems, and it’s essential to provide them with a balanced diet consisting of high-quality forage and appropriate grains. Always consult with a veterinarian for accurate dietary guidelines to keep your beloved equine companion happy and healthy.