can horses eat strawberries

Can Horses Eat Strawberries?

Written by: Annemarie Dutton

If you live near where strawberries are grown in patches, you might have seen horses grazing on them.  Horses love to eat a variety of fruits. But, can horses eat strawberries? 

The short answer is yes, but you should know what to expect when adding strawberries to your horse’s diet. 

This article will look at strawberries’ nutritional value, risks, and benefits in your horse’s diet.

Nutritional Value of Strawberries

Nutritional information of 1 cup of strawberries.

NutrientAmount
Calcium27 mg
Fiber3.3 g
Iron0.68 mg
Magnesium22 mg
Potassium254 mg
Vitamin B940 ug
Vitamin C97.6 mg
Vitamin EAbout 1 mg
Vitamin K3.7 ug
Water91 %
Sugar7 g

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Benefits Of Feeding Strawberries To Horse

Not only will your horse love a sweet and juicy strawberry treat, but it will be beneficial to its health.

Water

Strawberries are 91% water and make an excellent snack for horses during summer times.  Horses are about 70% water, and strawberries are great to assist with their hydration.

Calcium

Horses require calcium for neuromuscular functioning, cell signaling, and blood clotting. Its most important role is maintaining the integrity of the bone structure.

Fiber

Fiber keeps the gut full and the horse hydrated by acting as a water reserve and assisting digestive health.

Iron

Iron is vital to the circulation of oxygen in the body.

Magnesium    

Magnesium has numerous benefits, such as supporting hoof health and recovery after exercise. It also prevents laminitis – inflammation of the tissues bonding the hoof wall to the pedal bone in the hoof.

Potassium

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

Vitamin B9

Vitamin B9 is vital for metabolic function in horses. It also regulates blood sugar levels, muscle development, joint health, and hormonal synthesis.

Vitamin C

This vitamin fights against the free radicals and neutralizes them. It also plays a vital role in keeping a horse healthy during stress.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is essential for a healthy immune system. It also supports normal nerves and muscle functioning.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K helps in blood clotting. The deficiency of vitamin K can lead to bleeding.

Risks Of Feeding Strawberries To Horses

Strawberries contain a large amount of sugar, and too much of it can be harmful to your horse’s teeth. If your horse already has any dental problems, you should avoid feeding it any fruit.

Strawberries are also acidic, and too many can increase the risk of colic and abdominal pain.

Too many strawberries can also cause bloat and digestive issues for your horse, causing discomfort and pain. More importantly, bloat will cause your horse to eat less of its regular meals, resulting in nutritional deficiencies and further digestive problems.

Lastly, if your horse has insulin resistance, you should speak to your vet first before feeding it any fruit, including strawberries.

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How Often Can Horses Eat Strawberries?  

Strawberries can be fed to horses in small quantities but not more than six to ten every week.

Providing a horse with appropriate amounts is essential as overfeeding may lead to health problems. 6-10 strawberries every week keeps them healthy.

Strawberries are to be given as an occasional treat only and cannot replace any part of your horse’s regular diet. 

Can Horses Eat Strawberry Leaves?

Strawberry leaves are not toxic to horses but we recommend that you remove strawberry leaves before feeding them to horses.

Only remove them when you are about to offer the fruit to your equine friend. Early removal of leaves exposes strawberries to the surrounding air and bacteria, which spoils them.

How To Feed Strawberries To Horses

When feeding strawberries to your horse for the first time, start only with one or two as introducing a new item to your horse’s diet can upset its stomach.

Wash the strawberries thoroughly to get rid of any pesticides and chemicals. Check the strawberries to ensure there is no mold because which can make your horse sick.

It is advisable to cut the strawberries first to avoid choking. Do not feed more than two strawberries in a day and more than 10 in a week.

Never make strawberries or any other fruit a central part of the horse’s diet.

What To Do If Your Horse Gets Sick After Eating Strawberries

Typically, horses do not get sick after eating strawberries. However, if your horse has any medical condition such as diabetes, it could get ill.

If your horse gets sick, you should stop feeding him strawberries immediately. Second, do not panic. 

Contact a vet and get your horse the medical attention it needs.

What Are The Alternatives To Strawberries?

Strawberries are healthy and nutritious for your horse. However, here are some other safe berries you can try:  

Blueberries: They are among the most delicious and lovely berries for equines.

Blackberries: Blackberries are healthy treats, especially for the heart.

Cherries: Cherries are a good source of vitamin A and C for horses.

Raspberries: Raspberries are safe for horses as long as they are fed as treats.

Red Grapes: Sweet and tasty, red grapes are among the safest fruits for horses.

Summary

Strawberries are nutritious and delicious treats that are perfectly safe to give your horse as occasional snacks, and they provide health benefits too. However, too many strawberries can also cause digestive issues, like bloat, so moderation is key. 

We recommend no more than five to 10 strawberries a week. Also, organic varieties are preferable, and always make sure they are fresh, washed, and mold-free.

Continually research new food you want to introduce to your horse’s diet, and if you are unsure, contact your vet for advice.

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