Am I allowed to give cheese to horses?
Cheese is for many people an integral part of the diet and contains abundant vitamins, minerals and trace elements along with protein.
Calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, iron and up to 13 vitamins cheese contributes to the supply. But is it also healthy for horses?
The answer to this question we give you here.
In this article you will learn whether horses are allowed to eat cheese and what you have to pay attention to. We also show you whether cheese as a treat can be dangerous for the animals and what alternatives there are.
Are horses allowed to eat cheese?
That depends on the type of cheese. Many types of cheese contain lactose. This cannot be digested by adult horses and triggers considerable discomfort.
However, lactose-free varieties are now also available. However, they are not completely safe for your horse.
You can find out why this is the case in the following sections.
What are the dangers when your horse eats cheese?
Cheese, like milk, curd and other dairy products, usually contains lactose. This is lactose.
This is often no longer tolerated by horses and other mammals in adult age.
In horses, the intolerance usually manifests itself in persistent diarrhea. Watery stools and flatulence are also possible.
In the field of digestion, the disorders caused by diarrhea and colic are the greatest dangers. They can significantly weaken your horse and even be fatal.
Colic is also downright painful and will limit your horse if not treated early.
In addition to these disorders and discomforts from lactose, there are other risks.
Horses’ digestive systems are not designed to handle the kind of high fat and protein content found in cheese.
Fiber and roughage, on the other hand, are not included, but are important for horses.
This can also lead to disturbances in the gastrointestinal tract. In addition, the high energy content of cheese increases the likelihood of obesity.
What happens when your horse eats cheese?
It depends on the amount. If your horse is a slice of cheese or a few cubes, you don’t have to expect problems.
So if he accidentally ate your cheese sandwich, it’s nothing to worry about.
It’s a different story if he was intentionally fed large amounts of lactose-containing cheese.
The fat, protein and lactose then pose a risk.
If the cheese was lactose-free, the risk is lower. However, even this is not healthy for horses – despite the mineral content.
Better are alternatives that you can use as treats for your animal. We’ll get to that below.
Is lactose-free or vegan cheese an alternative for horses?
In terms of lactose, these options seem to be safer.
However, lactose-free cheese made from cow’s milk still contains a lot of fat and protein, which can be problematic.
Plant-based alternatives are sometimes made from soy or nut milk and contain yeast.
They often differ significantly from “real” cheese not only in terms of taste, but also in terms of nutrients and tolerance.
This means that unforeseen discomfort and damage to the intestinal flora can occur.
As a treat, for the mineral supply or to increase the weight you should therefore better rely on other foods.
What alternatives can be found to cheese for horses?
Horses tend to eat strange foods that they can’t tolerate or that are dangerous for them for other reasons.
Whether it’s chocolate or tomatoes, you should only offer your animal safe foods, consider individual tolerance, and also pay attention to their purpose and nutrients.
If your horse is too thin, exposed to high stresses from training or low temperatures and thus needs more calories, high-energy rewards and supplements are useful.
Foods to stimulate appetite may also prove useful in this case.
In case of health peculiarities you have to be more careful. Here too, however, you will find various feeds that can be used and can even improve the condition.
Is a healthy horse only interested in variety, reward and lure? Then you have a very large spectrum at your disposal.
Suitable are among others:
- leaves and twigs of fruit and nut trees
- Cabbage leaves
- Sugar beet
Many of the additives and treats mentioned are also suitable for keeping your horse occupied.
Hidden in the hay, hung up, put in a feed ball or prepared as homemade snacks, you can thus prevent the boredom that occurs especially when the horse is kept in a stall.
Keep in mind that all of the foods listed are only part of the horse’s natural diet to a limited extent or not at all, and should therefore only be offered in small quantities.
Conclusion: Horses and cheese
If your horse ingests some cheese once, it is usually not dangerous. However, you should avoid larger quantities or regular feedings with it.
Although the dairy product contains valuable minerals and vitamins, it is unsuitable for the animals.
Rather use one of the other possibilities for reward, variety or luring. There are plenty of healthier alternatives.
My name is Mark and the senior editor
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