If any of you have ever owned pets like dogs or cats before, you already know that chocolate doesn’t sit well with them. But when it comes to feeding larger, livestock animals like horses, you can’t be sure, right? These animals look so strong and sturdy that it seems likely that they can withstand a bite or two of a chocolate bar. Many horse-owners themselves believe that chocolate can do no great harm to their pets. But what is the truth behind it?
Can horses eat chocolate? While a little amount of chocolate is not outright lethal to your horse, if fed consistently or in large amounts, chocolate can be detrimental to their health. The basic contents of chocolate, theobromine, and caffeine, can have the same effect on horses as they do on other pets. Thus, they are in no way suitable for them. Moreover, chocolate also contains sugar in varying amounts, which is bad for your horse’s health.
Are you wondering about the health problems horses can suffer from after eating chocolate? Or are you curious about the effect of chocolate on the racehorses? Whatever your queries are, you will find their answers in this article.
Do horses like eating chocolate?
Before we move on to talk about various aspects of feeding chocolate to horses, let us first make sure whether horses like to eat chocolate or not?
First and foremost, horses are not known to be fussy about what you feed them. Moreover, they have a poor sense of what is or isn’t good for their health. Therefore, if you feed your horse chocolate, they are most likely to eat them.
However, some horses do have more reservations about their food than others. Though less likely, it is possible that your horse might not like the taste of chocolate.
Why is chocolate harmful to horses?
In the first section of the article, we stated that chocolate is harmful to your pet’s health. In this section, we will tell you why.
To determine why something is healthy or harmful for an animal, it is essential to understand what it is made up of. On that note, let us take a look at the basic contents of chocolate and how they affect your horse.
All of us know that chocolate comes from the cacao plant. Theobromine is a bitter-tasting alkaloid present in the cacao plant. For humans, this alkaloid is not just harmless but also healthy, for it has a therapeutic effect on their blood sugar levels.
However, for horses, theobromine can prove to be lethal. The reason behind it is that the digestive system of horses, unlike humans, is not designed to digest/metabolize theobromine.
Therefore, any amount of theobromine that enters their body remains inside and keeps building up until it reaches a highly toxic level. It can then lead to health problems such as internal bleeding, seizure, or heart attack. In many cases, too much theobromine in a horse’s system has ended up taking their lives.
Caffeine is another major ingredient of chocolate. The job of caffeine is to increase the blood pressure and heart rate of its consumer. Humans use this stimulant to keep them energized and productive throughout the day.
However, caffeine can have adverse effects on your pet. Horses already have a faster heart rate than humans; using any supplement to enhance it can lead to hyperactivity and undesired behavior in them. Too much caffeine can also make them suffer from diarrhea and gastric bleeding.
Although the cacao plant doesn’t naturally contain sugar, the processed chocolates that reach us contain varying degrees of sugar. A high quantity of sugar can create an imbalance in your pet’s blood sugar level and which can lead to metabolic syndrome and other health problems, obesity being one of them.
Horses consume a sufficient amount of calories in their daily diet, and feeding them any calorie-rich treats such as chocolate can add too many calories to their body. It can make them overweight, which is the cause of a number of severe diseases such as Laminitis.
Is it okay to feed horses chocolate moderately?
Many pet-owners believe that if fed moderately, chocolate poses no harm to horses. This is also backed by some veterinarians and animal experts.
However, as we have mentioned above, the theobromine found in chocolate tends to pile up inside their body and can lead to many health issues. If we are to go by this, any amount of chocolate is not good for horses.
Can baby horses eat chocolates?
As a rule of thumb, you must always remember that anything which is not good for an adult animal should not be fed to their younger ones. The same is true for the colts.
What should you do if your horse eats chocolate accidentally?
As a responsible pet parent, you should always take care that your pet does not reach or access anything that can prove to be fatal for their health. However, in case your horse as somehow found some chocolate and gobbled it up, the first thing you need to determine is the quantity they have consumed.
If they have eaten only a little amount of it, you don’t have to be concerned. They might get mild diarrhea, but that will be it. However, if the quantity of chocolate consumed by them is anything more than a small piece or bite, you must contact your veterinarian right away.
The immediate symptoms of it can be inactivity, frustration, and exhaustion. If you are not certain about the quantity of chocolate they have consumed, you should still take them to a veterinarian.
Can chocolate help the racehorses?
Many people who rear racehorses have a tendency to feed them chocolate in small quantities to enhance their performance.
The contents of chocolate (caffeine and theobromine) work as stimulants and can give the racehorses an edge over their competitors, thus, making the race unfair. A horse who has consumed chocolate will fail in the drug test conducted before races.
Therefore, the Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI) has declared that any horse who has consumed chocolate before a race will be disqualified from the race itself.
Can horses eat dark chocolate?
Dark chocolates are just as bad for the health of your pet as regular chocolates, if not more. Therefore, we recommend you not to feed your horse these.
Can horses eat white chocolate?
Unlike regular chocolate, white chocolate is made up of three main ingredients: cocoa butter, milk solids, and sugar.
Although cocoa butter contains theobromine and caffeine is considerably little quantity, it is rich in fat, which is unhealthy for horses.
Milk solids can make them suffer from diarrhea, and sugar can disturb their blood sugar levels. Therefore, it is best not to feed horses white chocolate.
If chocolate is bad for horses, chocolate cookies are much worse. In addition to the threat of theobromine and caffeine, these cookies also contain a high amount of sugar, chemical additives, and artificial flavors that can be harmful to your horse’s health. Thus, it might not be a great idea to feed them chocolate cookies.
Frequently asked questions
Can I mix eggs with my horse’s feed?
This might come as a surprise to many horse-owners, but horses can safely eat eggs. Although these animals are strictly vegetarian, egg, not being direct meat, can be an exception.
Eggs are as great a source of protein for horses as they are for us. Even the veterinarians believe that if your horse doesn’t mind eating them, you can certainly mix in their feed.
Is meat bad for my horse?
Although horses are vegetarians, they are not incapable of eating meat. In fact, as a horse-owner, you can even train your horse to eat meat regularly. However, the impact of feeding horse meat in the long term is still unknown and could be disastrous. This is why it is best to avoid feeding them meat.
What foods are toxic to my horse?
The following foods are toxic to your horses and should be avoided:
- Pitted fruits
- Meat products
- Dairy products
Can my horse eat carrots?
Carrots have an abundance of vitamins and minerals that are great for your horse’s health. Moreover, these are also one of their favorites. You will never find a horse who doesn’t like carrots. Thus, you can and should use carrots as healthy treats for them.
Final thoughts: Can Horses Eat Chocolate?
To sum it up, chocolate might be one of your feel-good foods, but you should never make the mistake of sharing it with your pet friends. Chocolates just do not have the right nutrients built for most animals, including horses.
While a little amount of it poses no severe threat to their health, it doesn’t add to their health either. And if you get habituated to feeding them these treats, you can make your pet very sick without even realizing it. It is best to look for other, healthier treat alternatives for your horse.