Horses eat the most outlandish foods – including chocolate?
However, it contains theobromine and other substances that are neither healthy for humans nor animals. Not least because of the sugar, it is therefore only a treat, even among bipeds.
Can it be the same for your horse? We have gone to the bottom of the question and provide you here the answer and alternative rewards.
In this article you will learn whether horses are allowed to eat chocolate and how the intake affects the animals. In addition, we offer you important information about feeding treats.
Are horses allowed to eat chocolate?
No, horses should not eat chocolate. This is because it contains substances that are toxic and harmful to the animals.
What is theobromine?
Theobromine is an alkaloid and has a similar effect to caffeine. It has a stimulating effect on the nervous system.
This is true at least if it can be metabolized properly. Special enzymes are required for this.
Humans possess these – but horses, dogs and cats do not.
For them, theobromine is a toxic substance that can even be life-threatening.
What effect does sugar have on horses?
In small amounts, it is not problematic. However, in excessive doses or given daily, it can promote tooth decay, lead to obesity and cause diabetes.
Occasionally some fructose is not harmful.
However, if fed constantly or as a main component of the diet, very sweet fruit, as well as honey and chocolate, are most unsuitable.
Lactose and horses
Chocolate often contains lactose – milk sugar. As a rule, adult horses can hardly or no longer metabolize this sugar.
They no longer possess the necessary enzymes, including saccharase.
This can lead to so-called faulty fermentation in the intestine and thus to complaints in the digestive tract.
Chocolate with a very high cocoa content has less lactose and generally less sugar, but contains significantly more theobromine.
This makes chocolate generally problematic for horses – regardless of the type.
What kind of discomfort can your horse experience after eating chocolate?
Typical would be digestive discomfort, due to the sugar and theobromine. Since horses experience nausea but cannot vomit, these are:
Colic in particular can be very painful and dangerous for horses. They can be fatal if severe and not treated.
In an already weakened horse with health problems, the symptoms can quickly worsen considerably.
It is therefore better not to feed chocolate.
What should you do if your horse has eaten chocolate?
That depends on the quantity. If, for example, a child has offered your horse a chocolate bar and he has taken a bite or even eaten the entire bar, this is usually completely unproblematic.
However, if this happens on a daily basis or in larger quantities, it can be dangerous if theobromine accumulates and cannot be excreted quickly enough.
Therefore, make sure that the paddock is secured and avoid passers-by or other people feeding your horse. This does not only apply to chocolate.
Because some other foods are eaten by horses, but are also harmful to them or even toxic to deadly.
If you notice that your horse has ingested large amounts – for example, from packaging in the paddock or other leftovers, symptoms or discomfort – call in a veterinarian immediately.
The sooner treatment is given, the lower the risk of severe progression. In addition, the healing time will be shorter.
What are the alternatives to chocolate for your horse?
When it comes to rewarding, enticing or spoiling your horse or stimulating his appetite, there are several options available to you right away.
Leaves and twigs of fruit and nut trees
So the choice of different foods for more variety and to keep them busy is wide.
Hanging beets and twigs or treats hidden in hay balls will prevent boredom and are ideal to keep in a box.
Make sure all foods are clean and unsprayed, and feed only small amounts at a time.
This is especially true if your horse is not yet used to fresh food or already has intolerances or digestive problems.
Horses and chocolate
You should not give your horse chocolate, even if small amounts are not immediately toxic or severely harmful.
The theobromine, sugar and lactose are detrimental to the horse’s health in the long run and in larger quantities – which means that you are not doing your horse any favors.
Therefore, it is better to use fruits and vegetables and make sure that only small amounts are included in your horse’s diet.
My name is Mark and the senior editor
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