Grapes taste good, are healthy and popular with people.
They also contain appreciable amounts of vitamins B1, B3 and B6, as well as valuable and vital minerals.
But are horses allowed to eat them? We’ll get to the bottom of this question in this guide.
In this article, you will learn which vital substances are contained in grapes and whether horses can benefit from them or whether the fruit poses a danger to the animals. We also show you what alternatives there are to the fruit.
Can horses eat grapes?
From very small amounts your horse will not directly get sick or die, but really healthy the fruits are not for the animal.
They pose some dangers that are not present to this degree for humans or other animals.
high content of fructose
contained seeds and toxins
high water content
low fiber content
Fructose and fermentation as a danger
Grapes – especially sweet and ripe ones – contain large amounts of fructose.
This occurs only to a very small extent in the normal diet of horses. Their digestion is therefore not designed to be able to process it properly.
This means that fermentation can occur in the stomach and intestines. Diarrhea, fecal water, flatulence and colic are the possible and probable consequences.
Due to the sensitive digestion of horses, the effects are considerable.
For this reason alone, grapes should be avoided as a treat for horses.
Grape seeds as a hazard
The seeds are not harmful to horses. What is problematic for your animal, however – at least in larger quantities – are the pesticide residues that may be present.
These cannot be completely removed even by thorough washing, because they penetrate the fruit, and can lead to symptoms of poisoning such as digestive problems.
Diarrhea, colic and effects on the circulation cannot be ruled out.
However, this is usually only the case when very large quantities are consumed. So, for example, if your horse eats whole vines directly from the plant.
Toxins can also accumulate if grapes are fed very frequently. In contrast, such cases do not occur with individual grapes.
High water content and low fiber content as risks
Horses generally feed on grasses, hay and, if necessary, herbaceous plants or leaves.
Fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds appear in their diet only to a very small extent.
Accordingly, their digestive system is designed to utilize food with a low water content but a high fiber content.
Foods such as grapes contain very little fiber, but a lot of water.
Although they also contain vitamins and minerals and thus make a small contribution to a healthy and balanced diet, this plays a lesser role in horses.
The high content of water and sugar prevents them from easily eating larger amounts of it. As a result, the micronutrients are also not absorbed in significant quantities.
What happens when horses eat grapes?
It depends on the quantity. If your horse snacks on a handful of grapes once, you don’t have to expect severe discomfort.
Slight diarrhea is possible in very sensitive animals, but also unlikely with such a small amount.
It only becomes problematic when whole grapes are ingested. Then colic due to fermentation of the grapes in the digestive tract is a danger.
If larger quantities are consumed frequently, digestive disorders and other health problems can occur even without colic.
This is because the fructose stresses the pancreas, among other things. This in turn can lead to diabetes.
So even if it is not directly a danger if your horse eats a few grapes now and then, they are not healthy for the animal.
Do horses like grapes?
Yes, the taste of grapes is also tempting for horses. So in grape-growing areas, there is definitely a risk that the animals will eat their fill.
If your horse is very sensitive, you should take good care near the plants with ripe fruit to keep it away from the fruit.
Grapes to stimulate the appetite
Since horses like the fruits, they can be used in very small quantities when your animal once has no appetite.
They serve as a feeding stimulant and can ensure that eating improves afterwards.
However, you should always have the cause of your horse’s lack of appetite clarified.
This must be done at an early stage, otherwise sensitive animals can become seriously ill.
The sooner a veterinarian finds the trigger, the better the chances for a quick and comparatively easy cure.
What are the alternatives to grapes for the horse?
If you want to offer your horse variety and treat him to a treat every now and then, you have several options for doing so.
Among them are not only fruits and vegetables.
Suitable are among others:
Branches of fruit and nut trees or berry bushes
However, always keep in mind that these should only be additions to the normal food.
Small amounts and the use to stimulate the appetite, as a reward or to lure are harmless with the mentioned fruits and vegetables.
As long as you give only a few grapes now and then, they pose no danger. In general, however, horses do not benefit from them health-wise.
Although they like the small fruits, grapes can harm horses. For this reason, caution is advised.
My name is Mark and the senior editor
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