If you live in an area where strawberries are grown, you might have often observed your equine friend munching on strawberries. Even if you do not live in such an area, the thought of offering your horse this delicious snack might have crossed your mind multiple times since horses are into a lot of fruits.
But can horses have strawberries? A short answer is yes – but before you rush to fulfill your horse’s appetite with strawberries, you should know that there are some caveats attached. Continue reading to understand the benefits and potential health risks associated with horses eating strawberries.
Can Horses Eat Strawberries?
Yes, absolutely. Horses can eat strawberries. Strawberries are not only safe for equine consumption, but they also offer many nutritional health benefits to horses. Not just this, strawberries are also a very delicious treat.
Nonetheless, you must never forget that moderation is the key – eating strawberries in excess can lead to numerous health issues. If your horse savors strawberries a lot, it does not mean that he can eat them in an unrestrained manner. Not just strawberries, but all treats should be offered to horses in moderate amounts.
Moreover, our equine friends need a balanced horse diet just like we do. A diet that consists of strawberries alone or a significant portion of it cannot take care of the nutritional requirement of horses wholly, be it one of the largest horses or the world’s smallest horse. That being said, let us roll into the detailed explanation.
What Are the Benefits of Strawberries for Horses?
Strawberries are packed with healthy vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, water, and polyphenols. Where the advantages of the rest of the nutrients might be obvious, polyphenols are especially great for a horse’s immunity, heart health, and digestive care. Though in small amounts, strawberries also contain proteins that are very useful for maintaining overall equine health.
The benefits of each nutrient for horses are described as under:
|Nutrient||Quantity in 1 cup||Beneficial Effect on Horses|
|Calcium||27 mg||It is required for neuromuscular functioning, cell signaling, and blood clotting. Its most important role is in maintaining the structural integrity of the skeleton.|
|Fiber||3.3 g||It keeps the gut full. Moreover, it gets soaked easily and keeps the horse hydrated by acting as a water reserve. Moreover, it is great when it comes to digestive health.|
|Iron||0.68 mg||It is especially important in the transportation of oxygen in the body.|
|Magnesium||22 mg||It has numerous benefits, such as supporting hoof health and recovery after exercise. It also prevents laminitis – inflammation of the tissue between the hoof and the beneath it.|
|Potassium||254 mg||It plays an important role in normal muscle contraction and relaxation. It also controls the osmatic pressure as well.|
|Vitamin B9||40 μg||It is important for metabolic function in horses. It also controls blood sugar levels, muscle development, joint health, and hormonal synthesis.|
|Vitamin C||97.6 mg||It fights against the free radicals and neutralizes them. It also plays an important role in keeping a horse healthy during times of stress.|
|Vitamin E||About 1 mg||It is vital for a healthy immune system. It also supports normal nerves and muscle functioning.|
|Vitamin K||3.7 μg||It helps in blood clotting. The deficiency of vitamin K can lead to hemorrhage.|
Strawberries Are 91% Water!Strawberries are mostly water. Hence, they make a great snack for horses during summer times. In addition, since horses are about 70% water, fruits like strawberries are great for their hydration.
What Are the Potential Disadvantages of Horse Eating Strawberries?
Strawberries can be disadvantageous to horses because of their sugar content. To begin with, it can cause a spike in insulin levels due to the fluctuation of blood sugar. In fact, horses that already suffer from insulin resistance must not be fed even a small amount of sugar and starch.
No Strawberries For Diabetic Horses!Strawberries are loaded with sugars, so ingesting them would result in a spike in the blood sugar level of your horse, which can be deadly.
Although healthy horses cope well with simpler sugars in their diet, those with health issues have trouble doing so.
Strawberries are also known for being acidic. Eating such things may lead horses to colic, abdominal pain, or other such diseases. Besides, too many strawberries can also lead to bloating and digestive issues. Moreover, bloating may lead to a horse eating less, which can lead to nutritional deficiencies.
However, it is advisable to consult a vet before proceeding with strawberries for your horse if he is suffering from any health problem.
Caution!Too much starch in a horse’s diet can lead to hindgut acidosis. The hindgut environment becomes too acidic, losing the ideal pH for digestion.
How to Feed Strawberry to Horses?
To feed your horse strawberries safely, you should adhere to the following recommendations:
- If your horse is new to strawberries, start only with one or two of them, as introducing a new edible too quickly can upset your horse’s stomach.
- It is advisable to cut the strawberries first to avoid choking.
- Do not feed more than two strawberries in a day and more than 10 in a week.
- Wash the strawberries thoroughly to get rid of residual chemicals and pesticides.
- Never feed moldy strawberries as they can make your horse ill.
- Never make strawberries or any other fruit any integral part of the horse diet.
- Make sure that the horse water trough is filled with fresh water when you offer strawberries to your horse.
Tip!Since horses find strawberries to be tasty, they make a great tool for teaching your steed new tricks. Just offer this fruit to your horse whenever he performs well during the training sessions.
Can Horses Have Strawberry Leaves?
Though strawberry leaves are not toxic to horses, it is recommended that we remove strawberry leaves before feeding them to horses.
Nevertheless, do not hurry to remove strawberry leaves, and remove them only when you are about to offer the fruit to your equine friend. Early removal of leaves exposes strawberries to the surrounding air and bacteria, which spoils them earlier than usual.
What to Do if Your Horse Goes Unwell After Having Strawberries?
Typically, horses do not go unwell suddenly after eating strawberries. However, if your horse is having any medical condition such as diabetes, he might do so.
In any case, if your horse does get unwell, first of all, you should stop feeding him strawberries immediately. Secondly, keep your calm and do not panic. Handle the situation in a normal way and try to ascertain how badly your horse’s health is affected. Afterward, contact a vet and get your horse the medical attention he needs.
What Are the Alternative to Strawberries?
Strawberries are healthy and nutritious for your horse; however, if he does not eat them or you are not content with the idea of feeding your steed this particular fruit, here are some other equine-safe and healthy berries you can try:
- Blueberries: They are among the most delicious and lovely berries to equines.
- Blackberries: Blackberries are healthy treats, especially for the heart.
- Cherries: Cherries are a good source of vitamin A and C for horses.
- Raspberries: Raspberries are safe for horses as long as they are fed as treats.
- Red Grapes: Sweet and tasty, red grapes are among the safest fruits for horses.
Conclusion: Can Horses Have Strawberries?
Horses can eat strawberries but only in moderate amounts – not more than 2 in a day and 10 in a week. Besides being safe, strawberries have to offer many nutritional benefits to horses. That said, if your horse is diabetic or has any other health issues, you should avoid giving him strawberries.
Can horses have strawberries? We hope all your concerns have been addressed. As you might be interested, now learn if they can eat cucumbers.