What Can Horses Eat from Human Food

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Have you ever been tempted to share a snack with your equine companion, only to stop and wonder, “What can horses eat from human food?” You’re not alone in this curiosity. As horse lovers, we sometimes wish to indulge our four-legged friends with treats straight from our plates.

What Can Horses Eat from Human Food

This article aims to educate discerning horse owners about which human foods are safe for horses and which should be avoided. Just as we prioritize a balanced diet for our well-being, the same principle applies to horses.

While the occasional treat can strengthen the bonds we share with these majestic animals, responsible treat-giving is crucial for their health and happiness. Let’s dive into the do’s and don’ts of sharing your snack with your steed.

Understanding Horse Nutrition

Understanding horse nutrition is key to ensuring the health and longevity of your equine companion. Here’s a simple breakdown of the three main components:


Forage is the foundation of every horse’s diet and should be the most plentiful. This includes grass and hay, which provide the fiber necessary for the proper functioning of the horse’s digestive system. Picture an equine grazing peacefully; that’s forage intake in its most natural form – it keeps their gut moving and supports dental health with constant chewing.


Concentrates are the energy-rich components of the diet, which include grains like oats, barley, and corn, as well as commercial pelleted feeds designed to meet specific nutritional needs. They should be given in moderation, tailored to the horse’s energy requirements, which vary with workload, age, and health status.


What Can Horses Eat from Human Food

Water is the unsung hero of a horse’s diet. A typical horse will drink 10-12 gallons daily and even more in hot weather or when exercising. Clean, fresh water must be available at all times to aid digestion, regulate body temperature, and maintain overall health.

What One should Need to be Aware of before Giving Human Food to Horses: Considerations

Quantity and Frequency

It’s essential to remember that horses have different dietary needs than humans. While we may enjoy a slice of cake or a handful of chips as an occasional treat, these foods can be harmful if fed to horses in large quantities or too frequently. A horse’s digestive system is not designed to handle high-fat or high-sugar foods regularly, leading to various health issues.

Toxic Foods

Not all human foods are safe for horses to consume. Some can even be toxic and potentially fatal. It’s crucial to know which foods fall into this category and avoid feeding them to your equine friends at all costs.

Some common toxic foods for horses include avocados, chocolate, onions, garlic, and caffeine-containing products such as coffee and tea. These foods can cause severe health issues, including colic, organ damage, and even death.


Just like humans, horses can also have allergies to certain foods. It’s essential to monitor your horse for any signs of an adverse reaction after introducing a new food into their diet. If you notice any symptoms such as hives, difficulty breathing, or swelling, immediately stop feeding the food and consult a veterinarian.

Safe Human Foods for Horses: The Answer of What Can Horses Eat from Human Food

Fruits & Vegetables

Horses can safely enjoy a variety of fruits and vegetables that we commonly have in our kitchens. These include:


Apple can be a tasty and healthy treat for horses. Just be sure to remove the seeds, as they contain small amounts of cyanide that can be harmful to horses in large quantities.


What Can Horses Eat from Human Food

Carrots are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals for horses. They provide a good crunch while promoting dental health.


Bananas are another fruit that horses can enjoy. They are high in potassium and provide a healthy boost of energy.


Broccoli is a nutrient-rich vegetable that can be fed to horses in moderation. It’s best to feed it cooked or steamed for easier digestion.


Celery is a low-calorie snack that horses can enjoy. It’s high in fiber and helps keep their digestive system moving.


Pumpkins are not only for Halloween; they make for a healthy treat for horses as well. Just be sure to remove the seeds, as they can cause choking.

Cantaloupe and watermelon:

Just like us, horses can also enjoy a refreshing slice of cantaloupe or watermelon on a hot day. They provide hydration and some essential nutrients.

Lettuce (Roman or romaine varieties):

Lettuce is a safe and healthy treat for horses. It’s low in calories and provides some essential vitamins.

Green beans:

Green beans are a great source of vitamins and minerals for horses. You can feed them raw or cooked.

Peppermint: Peppermint is a popular treat among horses, especially in the form of candy. It’s safe to feed in moderation and provides a refreshing flavor.

Grains & Cereals

Some grains and cereals from our pantry can also be shared with horses:


Oatmeal makes for a healthy breakfast option for horses. It’s high in fiber and provides a good source of energy.


Some horses enjoy cooked rice as part of their diet. It’s essential to feed it plain without any added spices or flavorings.


Feeding small quantities of bread can be an occasional treat for horses. Be sure to avoid any added sugars or flavorings.

Other Edible Treats

Lastly, there are several other human foods horses can safely enjoy:

Peanut Butter:

Peanut butter is a safe and tasty treat for horses. You can feed it in small amounts or use it as a way to administer medication.


Some horses may enjoy eating cooked eggs, which provide protein and other essential nutrients. Be sure to remove any shells before feeding.

Corn on the Cob:

Feeding corn on the cob can provide a fun and healthy treat for horses. Be sure to remove any husks or silk before feeding.


Coconut is another tasty snack for horses, but be sure to remove the hard outer shell before feeding.

What Can Horses Eat from Human Food

Remember, moderation is key when incorporating human food into a horse’s diet. When in doubt, always consult with a veterinarian before introducing new foods to your horse’s diet. And remember, the best and safest food for horses is a well-balanced diet of hay, concentrates, and plenty of fresh water.  So, now you know what can horses eat from human food. With proper knowledge and care, we can ensure that our equine friends stay healthy and happy for years to come. 

Unsafe Human Foods for Horses: What Can’t Horses Eat from Human Food

Before you decide to share your snacks with your equine friend, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the human foods that can be harmful to horses. Many foods that are perfectly safe for humans can be toxic to horses.

Toxic Plants

Some plants and vegetables that are commonly found in our diets can be toxic to horses. These include:


While ripe tomatoes are safe for horses, unripe or green tomatoes and tomato plants contain solanine, a toxic substance that can cause colic and other health issues.


Potatoes contain solanine as well and should not be fed to horses in any form.


Rhubarb contains oxalic acid, which can cause kidney damage and other health issues in horses.

Grapes and Raisins:

Grapes and raisins are toxic to dogs but can also be harmful to horses. They can cause kidney failure and other severe health issues.

Harmful Substances

Horses are sensitive to several substances that humans can usually tolerate. These include:


Chocolate contains theobromine, which is toxic to horses. Even a small amount can cause heart issues, seizures, and even death.


Caffeine can have similar effects on horses as chocolate and should also be avoided.

Onions and Garlic:

Onions and garlic contain compounds that can damage red blood cells in horses, leading to anemia and other health issues.


Avocado contains persin, a substance that can cause difficulty breathing and heart damage in horses.

Processed Foods

Many processed or fast foods that may be tempting for humans can be harmful to horses. These include:

Sugary Treats:

Feeding sugary treats like candy or soda to horses can lead to dental and digestive issues, as well as obesity.

Fried Foods:

Fried foods are high in fat and can cause digestive upset and other health issues for horses.

Processed Meats:

Horses do not require meat in their diets, and feeding them processed meats like hotdogs or bacon can be harmful.

Food with Artificial Sweeteners:

Artificial sweeteners like xylitol are toxic to horses and can lead to digestive issues, seizures, and even death.

Soda and Carbonated Drinks:

Soda and other carbonated drinks can cause digestive issues in horses and should be avoided.

It’s essential to keep these foods out of reach from your horse at all times.

Other Foods to Avoid

There are also some other human foods that should never be given to horses. Always avoid feeding your horse:

Dairy products:

Horses are lactose intolerant and cannot digest dairy products, leading to digestive upset.


Just like humans, alcohol can have severe effects on horses and should never be given to them.

Meals with Excessive Salt or Spices:

Excessive salt or spices can cause dehydration and other health issues in horses. Stick to plain, unseasoned foods.

Moldy or Spoiled Foods:

Feeding moldy or spoiled food to horses can lead to colic and other health issues. Always check for freshness before feeding.

What Can Horses Eat from Human Food

Remember, when in doubt, always consult with a veterinarian before introducing any new foods into your horse’s diet. Above all, prioritize a well-balanced diet of hay, concentrates, and fresh water for your equine friend’s health and well-being.  So, while it’s tempting to share our food with our horses, it’s essential to do so safely and responsibly.

Alternative Treat Options

Homemade Horse Treats: A Heartfelt Recipe

Creating your own horse treats at home is both fun and rewarding, enabling you to customize treats to your horse’s preference while ensuring they are healthy and made with love. Here’s a simple recipe for homemade horse treats that your equine friend is sure to relish:


  • 2 cups of rolled oats
  • 1 apple, grated or pureed
  • ½ cup of molasses
  • ¼ cup of flour (any type)


  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C).
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine the rolled oats and grated/pureed apple.
  3. Add in the molasses and mix well, ensuring all oats are coated.
  4. Gradually add in the flour, mixing until a dough-like consistency is formed.
  5. Roll out the dough on a floured surface to approximately ¼ inch thickness.
  6. Using cookie cutters or a knife, cut out desired shapes for your treats.
  7. Place the treats on a lined baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
  8. Allow the treats to cool before serving them to your horse as a tasty and healthy snack.

Horse-Safe Fruits and Vegetables

While there are many human foods that are harmful to horses, there are also plenty of safe options for occasional treats. Here are some fruits and vegetables that are safe for horses to consume:

  • Carrots
  • Apples (without seeds)
  • Bananas (without peel)
  • Watermelon (without seeds or rind)
  • Cantaloupe
  • Strawberries

Remember to always introduce new foods slowly and in moderation, as sudden changes in diet can also lead to digestive issues in horses. Treats should not make up more than 10% of your horse’s daily diet, and a well-balanced diet of hay and concentrates should always be the main focus.

Safe Foraging for Horses

Another option for providing treats for your horse is safe foraging. This involves allowing your horse to graze on certain plants and grasses that are safe and beneficial for their health. Some examples of safe foraging options include:

  • Dandelion greens
  • Chamomile flowers
  • Mulberry leaves
  • Mint leaves

Always consult with a veterinarian or equine nutritionist before allowing your horse to forage, as some plants may look similar but can be harmful. Additionally, make sure the area where your horse is grazing has not been treated with pesticides or fertilizers that could be toxic to them.

Commercial Horse Treats

When purchasing commercial horse treats, it’s essential to read the ingredients carefully. Look for treats that are made with all-natural and easily digestible ingredients. Some popular options include:

  • Carrot or apple-flavored treats
  • Molasses-based treats
  • Flaxseed or oat-based treats

Avoid treats that contain artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners, as well as those with high sugar content. Remember to always feed treats in moderation and consult with a veterinarian if you have any concerns about your horse’s diet and health.

Tips for Maintaining Horse Health After Consuming Human Food

Moderation is Key

When it comes to feeding your horse-human food, moderation is key. Even safe foods can have adverse effects when given in large quantities. It’s essential to balance treats with a healthy and balanced diet to maintain your horse’s health.

Introduce New Foods Slowly

If you want to introduce a new food or treat into your horse’s diet, it is best to do so slowly. This allows their digestive system to adjust and reduces the risk of digestive upset.

Monitor for Any Negative Reactions

After feeding your horse a new food, watch for any adverse reactions. If your horse shows signs of discomfort or illness after consuming human food, consult with a veterinarian immediately.

Stick to a Consistent Diet

Horses thrive on consistency, so sticking to a regular feeding schedule and avoiding constantly changing their diet is essential. This can help prevent digestive issues and maintain overall health.

Safety Tips  When Feeding Your Horse Human Food

Always Research and Consult with a Professional

Before feeding your horse any human food, it’s essential to do thorough research and consult with a veterinarian or equine nutritionist. They can provide valuable insight into the safety and nutritional value of different foods for horses.

Avoid Sharing Your Plate

What Can Horses Eat from Human Food

It may be tempting to share your own meals with your horse, but it’s best to avoid this. Human food is often high in salt, sugar, and seasonings, which can be harmful to horses.

Always Feed in Small Portions

To avoid overfeeding or causing digestive upset, always offer human food to your horse in small portions. This allows you to monitor their intake and prevents any potential health issues.

Be Mindful of Any Medications

If your horse is on any medications, it’s essential to check with your veterinarian before offering them human food. Some medicines may interact negatively with certain foods, so it’s best to err on the side of caution.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: Can horses eat bread?

Although bread is not toxic to horses, it should not be a regular part of their diet. Bread has little nutritional value and can contribute to obesity and other health problems when fed in excess. It’s better to stick with healthier treats high in fiber and nutrients.

Q2: Are there any fruits or vegetables that are toxic to horses?

Yes, several fruits and vegetables are toxic to horses. These include avocados, onions, garlic, leeks, tomatoes, potatoes, and any stone fruit with pits, such as peaches, plums, and cherries. Always consult with a veterinarian if you need clarification on a particular food.

Q3: How much human food can I feed my horse as a treat?

When feeding your horse-human food, moderation is key. Treats should make up at most 10% of your horse’s daily calorie intake. Overfeeding treats can lead to obesity and other health issues. Always consult with your veterinarian for advice tailored to your horse’s specific needs.


While horses can safely consume some human foods in moderation, it’s essential to be cautious and knowledgeable about what is safe for your equine friend. Maintaining a balanced and healthy diet is crucial for your horse’s overall well-being, so it’s best to stick to their regular feed and offer treats in moderation.

With the proper knowledge and caution, you can safely treat your horse without compromising their health.  So, always be mindful when choosing treats for your horse and prioritize their health above all else. Thanks for reading this article, “What can horses eat from human food?”

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