Horse owners know that some horses will beg you for snacks like they’re giant dogs. As a result, you might feel tempted to reach for a dog treat to reward or surprise your hooved friend. But you should think twice before doing just that.
Can Horses Eat Dog Treats?
While horses can eat dog treats, they generally shouldn’t. Dog treats meet the nutritional needs of dogs, which differ significantly from what horses need. An occasional dog treat likely won’t hurt your hooved friend, but safer and healthier alternatives are available.
Are Dog Treats Safe For Horses?
Typically, dog treats are safe for horses in small amounts.
But just like humans shouldn’t always eat chocolate or drink a beer, being “safe” doesn’t mean dog treats are good for horses.
The digestive system of dogs and horses differs significantly. So if your horse eats too many dog treats, then it may get sick.
Plus, dog treats aren’t very nutritious for horses.
Canines and equines require vastly different diets. Leaning too heavily on dog treats will deprive your horse of vitamins and minerals they should otherwise get.
An occasional dog treat might be okay, but there are far safer and healthier alternatives.
Why Shouldn’t Horses Eat Dog Treats?
According to Dr. Lydia Gray, dogs should stick to dog treats, and horses should stick to horse treats.
Many horses will scarf down almost anything you put in front of them.
But they have specific nutritional needs that dog treats won’t meet.
Not to mention that horses are herbivores, while dogs are omnivores. Meaning that food for canines has meat and dairy components that horses might struggle to digest.
Too much cheese or beef might result in GI issues or disease for your hooved friend.
And over time, it could lead to more severe complications like stomach ulcers or chronic constipation.
What Foods Are Toxic For Horses?
Here’s a list of some common snacks and pet food ingredients that are generally bad for horses. If you have any of these around, make sure your horse can’t get into them.
- Meat products
- Allium vegetables (onions, garlic, chives, etc.)
- Fruits with large pits/seeds
Chocolate is one you especially want to avoid. It contains caffeine, which most animals besides humans are pretty sensitive to.
It also has theobromine in it, a chemical that creates all sorts of health issues for equines.
Theobromine is also something that racing authorities will drug test horses for since it increases short-term physical performance.
So if you own racing horses, you definitely don’t want them to have chocolate. It carries long-term health risks and can get you banned from competitions.
Ingredients Of Dog Treats
So what exactly is in dog treats? Let’s look at some of the most common ingredients:
- Wheat flour
- Chicken and bone meal
- Cheese powder/dried cheese
- Beef fats
While none of these are toxic per se, horses may have trouble digesting them.
So if you notice your horse getting gassy after eating dog treats, then stop using them as a snack. And not just because of the smell!
Sudden and intense gassiness may indicate your horse is having GI issues.
Can Horses Eat Peanut Butter Dog Treats?
Peanut butter dog treats rank among the safest dog treats to feed your horse.
Unlike other dog snacks with meat proteins, many of these treats are vegetarian.
Horses are herbivores. So it’s usually easier for them to digest oils and proteins from plants than from meat.
Also, they may be more nutritious for your horse than traditional dog treats. But that varies between peanut butter treats. You should read the ingredients to be safe either way.
However, equine foods and treats are the best way to go. That way, you can reward your horse with a tasty snack while still providing optimal nutrition.
What Treats Are Safe For Horses?
Let’s say that after reading the above, you decide to no longer feed treats meant for dogs to your horses. Then what’s a good alternative snack for them?
Below are some excellent treats better suited for horses than dog biscuits.
- Horse treats (pre-made ones for equines)
- Hard candy/sugar cubes (only a small amount)
- Apples (without seeds is better)
As you can tell, horses love sweet things. But no better how much they beg, make sure to keep their diet balanced.
You especially don’t want a large quantity of sugary candies. So save them for special occasions!
Help! What if I Already Fed My Horse Dog Treats?
If you have already given dog treats to your horse – Don’t worry!
More than likely, they’ll be just fine.
Here’s one reason why:
Dogs typically weigh only around 20-80 pounds. Meanwhile, horses can weigh close to a ton!
So, a single tiny dog treat will typically have little effect on a horse.
You should carefully watch what they eat, and cut dog treats out if you can. But your horse probably won’t suffer long-term consequences from an occasional Milk-bone or other dog snack.
Can Horses Eat Cat Treats?
Cat treats are even less fit for horses than dog treats are.
Dogs are omnivores, so their snacks share some marginal nutritional overlap with horses.
But the diet and nutritional needs of cats couldn’t be any more different than horses.
Cats are naturally carnivores that prefer an entirely meat diet. As a result, their food is typically full of fatty oils from chicken and beef.
Meat products are generally bad for horses. And that’s pretty much all that’s in cat food.
While your horse might like the taste of cat food, you certainly don’t want to make a habit of feeding it to them.
Can Horses Eat Food for Humans?
Dog treats ordinarily don’t mix well with horses.
But you might wonder if they’re allowed to eat one of your French fries. Or if they can clean up your leftovers.
Funny enough, horses and humans can share certain healthy foods. So long as you keep it vegan and avoid processed things.
If you make a chopped salad with various greens and fruits, your horse may enjoy a bowl. Just make sure you hold the dressing!
When not sure about a specific food, don’t hesitate to call your vet or look it up online.
Chances are someone already tried feeding their horse whatever you want to try. So do some research before to avoid giving your hooved-friend an unnecessary stomach ache.
An occasional dog treat probably won’t hurt your horse in the long term. But it would help if you still avoided dog treats as rewards when there are so many better alternatives.
Consider giving your horses horse treats and healthy veggies instead.