can horses eat pears

Can Horses Eat Pears?

Written by: Annemarie Dutton

Pears are a juicy and delicious snack that people love. Horses are known for loving to eat treats, and they will always want them. But, sometimes, we need to get creative when choosing healthy treats for our horse friends. Pears are healthy fruit for humans, but can horses eat pears?

The short answer is yes. Pears are entirely safe for horses to eat. Plus, horses love their naturally sweet flavor and crisp skin.  They must, however, be given in moderation and not as a staple food. 

This article will explore the nutritional value of pears, the health benefits and risks, and some more.  If you are interested to find out more about horses and pears, please read on.

The Nutritional Value Of Pears

Nutritional information of one medium-sized pear (178g) provided by the USDA.

NutrientAmount
Calories101
Fat0.3 g
Sodium1.8 mg
Carbohydrates27 g
Fiber5.5 g
Sugars17 g
Protein0.6 g
Vitamin K7.8 mcg
Potassium206 mg

There are hundreds of types of pears grown worldwide. Despite the variety among this type of fruit, most pears have high amounts of fiber and low amounts of protein. These are both great features that all horses need. Not to mention, pears are packed full of vitamin C, vitamin K, copper, potassium, niacin, proto vitamin A, and antioxidants.

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Health Benefits of Feeding Horses Pears

Potassium:

Potassium plays an essential role in normal muscle contraction and relaxation. It also controls the osmatic pressure.

Improves Digestive Health

Pears have high fiber, which is excellent for digestive health. Feeding your horse pears can help regulate their bowel movements and feed the healthy bacteria found in their stomach. More healthy stomach bacteria result in improved immunity, better aging, and less constipation.

Anti-inflammatory

Pears fight inflammation because of their high flavonoid antioxidant content. These antioxidants decrease inflammation, which reduces heart disease, obesity, and several other adverse health effects found in horses.

Carbohydrates:

Pears contain a significant amount of carbohydrates. Since this is a valuable nutritional ingredient that horses need, pears come in handy. Carbohydrates provide the energy that horses require to stay energetic. 

Better Heart Health

The number of antioxidants in pears improves heart health. For example, pear includes procyanidin and quercetin, which are antioxidants that benefit the heart by decreasing inflammation and increasing good cholesterol.

Water Content

One more benefit that pears offer is their hydration ability. Since they’re 80% water, eating a pear or two can provide a considerable amount of fluids. During the sweltering summer months, this comes in handy when horses can become easily dehydrated. 

Vitamins

Pears also contain quite a good amount of vitamins and minerals. For instance, they contain vitamin B2, essential for proper metabolism, energy production, muscle development, and hormone fabrication. They also contain vitamin B9, aka folic acid, which is indispensable in red blood cell production and anemia prevention.

Additionally, pears contain vitamin C and vitamin E, which play vital roles in many biological processes, such as immunity, neuromuscular functions, wound repair, skin, ligament, and tendon integrity.

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Potential Risks of Feeding Pears to Horses

Large Quantities 

As with anything else, too much of a good thing is never a good thing, and pears can be harmful. However, the danger doesn’t lie with the actual fruit but with how you feed it to your horse. 

For example, giving your horse too many pears will cause disturbance in their digestion and cause issues like gas, bloating, and diarrhea. Moreover, the horses will feel full, making them start dismissing their usual diet loaded with the necessary nutrients.

Big Pieces 

Giving your horse a whole pear without cutting it into pieces or removing the core is a terrible idea. While it’s true that most horses chew their food before swallowing it, not every horse chews well or even at all. That’s especially true for older horses that tend to have dental problems. 

High in Sugar

Furthermore, pears are full of sugar. With regular consumption of large quantities, your horse will readily gain weight until it becomes at risk of heart or joint diseases. Not only that, but all the sugar can increase your horse’s chance of developing digestive issues and colic.

While some horses can enjoy this sugar in moderation, others simply can’t due to certain medical conditions. 

For example, pears are off-limits for horses that are obese, have laminitis,  or have insulin resistance/metabolic disorders. In addition, horses with hyperkalemic periodic paralysis should also steer away from pears due to their potassium content. 

How Often Can Horses Eat Pears?

On average, horses can eat up to two pounds of pears twice a week. You can offer a chopped medium-sized pear as a treat every day.

Of course, if your horse has or is at risk of metabolic diseases or laminitis, you should take care with high sugar treats. If in any doubt, you should discuss it with your vet to ensure you’re providing a well-balanced meal. 

Things to Remember

  • Chop up pears to keep your horse from choking.
  • Introduce pear treats slowly and monitor your horse’s reaction.
  • Consult a vet if you notice any digestive issues in your horse after eating pears.
  • Avoid overfeeding pear treats by limiting the amount you feed each day.
  • Make sure horses cannot access any fallen fruit from pear trees.   

Are Pear Seeds and Cores Safe For Horses?

Pear seeds contain substances that can produce small amounts of natural cyanide, a dangerous substance that can be dangerous to all animals and humans in larger quantities.

Of course, it would take a large number of pear seeds to cause any issues in horses, but to avoid the danger altogether, try not to feed them to horses.

The core of a pear is not necessarily safe for horses to eat. While the fruit itself is safe, the core of a pear is hard to chew and can cause a horse to choke.

Choking incidents are extremely dangerous for horses, and even if they are saved from choking, some will develop pneumonia which can be fatal. 

Preparing Pears for Horses

To prepare pears for your horse, follow these steps:

  • Wash the pear to remove bacteria, dirt, and pesticides
  • Remove the stem and seeds
  • Cut the pear into edible chunks
  • Offer your horse the pieces one at a time. 

Final Thought

Pears make a great treat option for horses. They are safe, healthy, and tasty treats for horses if fed in limited amounts. Avoid feeding pears to horses with insulin resistance or HYPP. Healthy horses should have no problem eating pears as a treat. 

Always research food you would like to introduce to your horse, and if you feel unsure, please contact your vet for advice.

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