can horses eat grapes

Can Horses Eat Grapes?

Written by: Annemarie Dutton

Proper nutrition is essential for a horse’s health and performance. Paying close attention to its diet should be a priority for every owner. Forage is the main component in their diet which is either legumes or grass. Treats are also often involved either as supplements due to their minerals or simply for fun and interaction.

Treats For Horses

Most horses love treats. Although they are sometimes picky, horses prefer fruits and vegetables such as carrots, watermelon rinds, berries, and apples.  They can be both dried or raw, but they should be cut up into small pieces to avoid choking. Their favorite vegetables are carrots, lettuce, green beans, and celery.

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Do Horses Enjoy Grapes and Their Benefits

But can horses eat grapes?  Yes. They provide several important nutrients and contain natural sugar.

Grapes regulate sugar levels in animals. Also, they contain high amounts of water and help to prevent dehydration. 

If your horse refuses to drink water, feeding them fruits or vegetables can compensate for this shortfall

Grapes also provide fiber, vital in a horse’s daily feed. The general rule is that horses need 1 kilo of fiber per 100 kilograms of bodyweight. Grapes are a good supplement if your horse does not meet this threshold.

Grapes are very safe to eat. Due to their small size, there is no risk of choking. They are easier to feed since most treats require cutting into small pieces in order to avoid any choking hazards.

Important Notes To Take

Sometimes horses refuse to eat such fruits because they contain seeds. Make sure to check your horse’s tolerance for the seeds in grapes, watermelons, and other feed. 

Moderation and balance are important. The proper amount of grapes is between 10 and 20 per week. More than that can increase the sugar level of your horse and cause weight gain and addiction to the sweet taste.

A Horse’s Diet 

Horses can normally eat 1.5 to 2% of their body weight in hay. For a 1200-pound (roughly 550 kg) horse, this equates to 18-24 lbs (8-10.5 kg). It varies depending on the nutrients and quality of the hay.

Not all hays provide the same energy and nutrients even if they are the same plant. For example, alfalfa could be off-colored, dusty, moldy, or weed-ridden, just as any grass hay might be. On the other hand, good quality is characterized by the vividly green color and smell. 

Consult with a vet on your horse’s nutrition needs. Usually, alfalfa is recommended for horses struggling to maintain a healthy weight. It can also be helpful to horses suffering from muscle problems or horses with EMS (equine metabolic syndrome) due to the legume’s low amounts of nonstructural carbohydrates. 

In general, every horse has its own nutritional requirements so it is best to consult a specialist in order to find the best balance between grass and legume hays.

Apаrt frоm enеrgy and wаtеr, it is impоrtant to monitor minerаl intаkе. Calcium and phosphorus desеrvе саrеful attеntiоn. Fоr mаturе horsеs thаt аrе in mаintеnancе, the dаily nutrients should be 4g per 100kg of weight of calcium and 3g per 100kg of phosphorus.

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Why Grapes can be Very Useful

Grapes contain potassium and vitamin C. They support the immune system while also improving nerve and muscle function.

Like most treats, grapes can be used to reward your horse. If your horse prefers grapes over other fruits and vegetables it can be used as a reward when the horse does well. 

The Negative Side of Grapes

There are some rare cases when grapes should not be fed to a horse. One of them is if the horse suffers from an insulin-resistant disease. The most common one among the equine animals is HYPP. The sugar levels in the fruit may cause health problems.

Another instance is if your horse is allergic to grapes. When you first feed them grapes,  pay close attention to any symptoms of allergy such as breaking out in hives.

Unwashed grapes can be dangerous for horses. Pesticides are present in all fruits so washing them first is recommended. Although grapes are much tastier without the stems, your horse will not mind if you give them grapes directly from the branch after washing.

Conclusion

During the summer when the temperatures are hot, feeding your horse grapes can be a delightful treat to freshen its day.

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