Have you ever run out of store-bought treats for your pets and wonder what you could give them from your kitchen? It is a common situation most pet owners face every now and then. However, determining which food from your diet is safe for your pet is not an easy task. The nutrient requirement of animals is quite different from that of humans. Moreover, many things are perfectly safe for you but can be lethal to your pet. What about bread?
So, can horses eat bread? Yes, horses can eat bread. Plain bread is the best alternative to feed your horse, since spiced garlic or chocolate bread may not be safe for them. Plain bread is not toxic to horses and can be fed to them in moderation. While rich in calories, bread contains little in the nutrients. Therefore, making it a regular in your horse’s diet can create a nutrient imbalance. You can use bread as occasional snacks or treats for horses.
Do horses eat bread?
Bread contains no special aroma that can entice horses or appeal to them. Therefore, whether a horse will eat bread or not completes depends on its individual choice.
If you have a farm and keep more than one horse, you will some of them to respond well to bread, while others ignore it altogether. Bread, like carrot or apple, has equal chances of being well-liked or turned down by a horse.
Is bread healthy for horses?
No, bread is not particularly healthy for horses. All the basic ingredients used in bread, such as salt, yeast, flour, and water, are easily digestible for horses. Thus, there’s nothing about bread that is specifically toxic or unhealthy to a horse.
The high-calorie content in bread, in fact, helps young horses in gaining weight. However, the problem lies with the absence of any significant nutritional value in bread.
Why should you not make bread a regular in your horse’s diet?
While bread is not toxic to your horse, it is not healthy for them either. These are the reasons why you shouldn’t make bread a regular in your horse’s diet:
Lack of sufficient nutrients
Horses are active and energetic animals. They require large amounts of carbohydrates, fats, protein, vitamins, and minerals daily for a healthy diet.
Bread does not fulfill these requirements in the slightest. Apart from high calories, bread has little to offer, and thus, can’t be included in their regular diet.
High starch content
In addition to calories, bread also contains starch abundantly. However, the small intestine of horses has a very limited capacity to digest starch.
Therefore, the high starch content in bread can lead to health problems in horses if consumed daily.
How much bread can you safely feed your horse?
First and foremost, you must find out whether or not your horse likes to eat bread at all. If they do, you can feed them 1-2 regular-sized slices of it every now and then, and that’s all. Any more than that is not healthy for them.
What happens if your horse eats too much bread?
Eating too much bread too often can lead to the following diseases in your horse:
Equine Rhabdomyolysis (ER)
The rich starch content of bread can lead to health problems such as equine rhabdomyolysis. It is a syndrome that tends to destroy the muscle tissues of a horse. Some of the common symptoms of this syndrome are stiffness, reluctance to move, excessive sweating, increased respiratory functions, and non-specific lameness.
Colic or abdominal pain
The starch fermentation leads to the production of a bacteria that produces lactic acid in the horse’s hindgut. It creates an imbalance of the pH level and leads to a sharp abdominal pain or colic.
Laminitis is another painful disease caused by imbalanced pH levels in horses. In this condition, the pedal bone of the horse rotates under the bodyweight under the hoof. The disease eventually makes the bones structurally weak.
Can you feed bread to young horses?
No, you certainly shouldn’t feed bread to young horses. Unlike adult horses, they have an even lower tolerance for starch and can get sick relatively quickly. Moreover, the starch-rich diet has, in many cases, led to issues with bone formation in younger horses.
Can you feed moldy bread to your horse?
Never. Molds, on bread or any other edible, often produce mycotoxins. Horses cannot digest this toxic compound, which ends up causing many illnesses and diseases. These diseases range from reproductive to respiratory, gastrointestinal, and immunological problems.
To avoid feeding your horse molds, you should always go for fresh and dry bread.
Can you feed your horse raisin bread?
Although many fruits are unhealthy for horses, raisins are not one of them. As long as they are seedless, raisins make great treats for horses.
Since a raisin bread doesn’t contain any seeds, you can safely feed your horse raisin bread without worrying. However, just like regular bread, you should use it as an occasional treat.
Can you feed your horse whole wheat bread?
The gluten-starch in wheat grains have a tendency of balling up in the intestine of horses. Often it leads to blockages and causes gastrointestinal problems.
However, in whole wheat bread, the gluten-starch is altered by yeast and the heat of baking. These factors make the whole wheat bread easily digestible to horses.
Other human foods you should avoid feeding horses
Now you know how to feed bread to your horse. However, there are many other human foods in your kitchen you should steer clear of while feeding your horse.
Nightshade plants and vegetables
Nightshade plants contain compound atropine, which leads to loss of appetite in horses. While horses aren’t fond of the nightshade vegetables, such as eggplant, potato, etc., they can find the plants’ stems or leaves appealing. This is bad news since the stems and leaves are more potent and can make them sick.
Yogurt and other dairy products
All dairy products, including yogurt, contain lactose. Horses cannot digest lactose at all, and therefore, shouldn’t be fed any dairy products. If they eat dairy products, they can suffer from loose stool and diarrhea.
Clippings from lawn
Many horse owners feed their pets lawn clippings on a regular basis since horses eat grass anyways. However, lawn clippings might also contain shredded toxic plants, that might lead to diseases like laminitis or colic. Moreover, if the lawn clippings are sitting for a day or two, they can develop mold.
Chocolates are rich in theobromine, a chemical that is toxic to horses just as it is to dogs. In many cases, consuming a large amount of cocoa has even led to a horse’s death.
Do you have a persimmon tree in your backyard, or in the area where your horses usually graze? While pet-owners don’t feed persimmons to horses consciously, horses can find them fallen from trees and eat them on their own. The seeds and fibers of this fruit create phytobezoar and can lead to gastrointestinal blockages in horses.
The fruit of avocado is harmless, even healthy for your horse to some extent. However, the outer skin of the fruit, as well as its seed, can cause serious health problems to your pet. Thus, it’s best to avoid the fruit altogether as prevention.
Coming back to our initial question: can horses eat bread? Yes, they can eat bread. However, feeding them bread isn’t the healthiest option. Bread lacks all essential nutrients and is rich in starch that leads to a number of diseases in horses.
Therefore, you should avoid feeding them bread, and if you do, feed them in moderation. If you’re looking for healthy treats for horses from your kitchen, you can go with a banana or a carrot.