As a horse owner, it’s your duty to keep your horse healthy by feeding them the right type and amount of food. But unlike humans, there are some foods that horses shouldn’t eat. You may wonder, can horses eat blueberries?
Horses can’t burp or vomit, meaning that there’s no going back if they eat the wrong food. So your best bet in such a scenario is to take your pet horse to the vet and hope it gets better.
And while horses can eat some types of fruits, not all of them are safe. But what about blueberries? Can your horse enjoy some? Let’s find out!
Should You Feed Your Horses Blueberries?
In short, yes, there’s nothing wrong with feeding your horse some blueberries as a snack. It’s a healthy, delicious, and low-calorie treat that your horse will probably enjoy. Nevertheless, there are a couple of things to keep in mind, like the serving size and food hygiene precautions.
Do Horses Like Blueberries?
Many horses love blueberries; that’s a fact. And once you start feeding a blueberry-loving horse some, it’ll immediately crave for more. But wait, don’t rush and feed them more just yet, especially if this is the first time you feed your horse blueberries, but more on that later.
Benefits of Blueberries for Horses
Blueberries can have lots of benefits when fed to horses in small quantities. These include:
Enhances the Immune Function
Blueberries contain pterostilbene, a compound that naturally improves the immune system. This happens because it increases the energy of cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide “CAMP,” a gene that’s directly involved in the immune function of humans and animals.
Additionally, blueberries can enhance your horse’s connective tissue, ensuring that pathogens can’t enter its system easily.
Rich in Antioxidants
Blueberries are an excellent source of antioxidants.
Antioxidants eliminate free radicals in your horse’s body, which is essential for preventing severe cancerous tumors.
Additionally, antioxidants improve cardiovascular health and protect from digestive illnesses and neurodegeneration.
Contains Plenty of Nutrients
Blueberries are loaded with essential vitamins, like vitamins A, B, B1, B2, and C. They also contain lots of healthy minerals such as magnesium, manganese, potassium, iron, calcium, and phosphorus.
These nutrients are important for your horse’s bones, skin, teeth, and overall health.
Blueberries have antioxidants that protect your horse’s retina and improve vision. Also, if your horse is recovering from certain eye injuries or diseases, feeding it some blueberries would help.
Blueberries also improve blood circulation around the eyes.
Has Anti-Inflammatory Properties
The flavonoids in blueberries have anti-inflammatory properties, making it less likely for your horse to catch harmful disease-causing bacteria. They can also help your horse treat certain bowel diseases.
Prevents Bad Dietary Habits
Blueberries are high in fibers while also being low-calorie. This means that your horse can consume them without putting on extra weight. And since they can be used as an alternative to high-fat snacks, they’re also important for maintaining your horse’s health.
Additionally, blueberries are low in sugar, so you can use them to control your horse’s blood sugar levels.
Are Blueberries Toxic to Horses?
No, blueberries are 100% suitable for equine consumption unless they’re rotten or you don’t wash them well. However, they might cause adverse side effects if you overfeed your horse with them or replace other essential foods with blueberries.
Of course, it’d take an insane amount of blueberries to make your horse sick. However, this varies from one horse to another, so make sure to limit the quantities in all cases.
How Many Blueberries Can Horses Eat a Day?
Generally speaking, you shouldn’t feed your horse more than two pieces of fruit each day. However, since blueberries are pretty small, you can feed your horse way more berries than just two.
We can safely say that around 8-12 blueberries a day would be suitable for most horses. However, it’s still recommended that you start with a smaller quantity and see how your horse responds first. Then, you can increase the quantity gradually.
Of course, don’t count on blueberries as the only fruit type to feed your horse. It’d be nice to feed your horse blueberries once every few days and other fruits in the days in between.
The lion’s share of your horse’s diet should be grass. Feeding your horse too much fruit will fill up its belly, which will cause it to eat less grass. If that happens, expect your pet to suffer from weakness and diseases sooner or later.
How to Feed Your Horse Blueberries
The way you present blueberries to your horse can make a world of difference for it. There are several ways to introduce blueberries to your horse, which include:
- Cut the berries into half and feed them to your horse half by half
- Mix the berries with oats or seeds, like chia seeds
- Consider feeding your horse some blueberry biscuits. You can find them in most pet stores
- Feed your horse blueberries mixed with bananas, strawberries, or other fruits
- Include some frozen blueberries every once in a while
Also, keep in mind that it’s better to alternate between blueberries and other healthy fruits to keep your horse excited for every snack.
How Do Fruits Affect a Horse’s Digestive System?
Fruits can be healthy for your horse. However, since a horse’s digestive system is sensitive, it’d be best to feed your horse fruits in small portions rather than large quantities.
Overfeeding your horse with fruits can potentially disrupt its digestive system, which may lead to serious diseases or illnesses like colic. Colic, in particular, is a common disease among horses. It results in abdominal pain, digestion problems, faster heartbeat, and loss of appetite.
Colic can be treated with medication, but in some complicated cases, surgery is the only solution.
It’s also important to consider that, while fruits are low in calories, overconsuming them may still result in unnecessary weight gain. Not to mention, your horse could choke if you feed it too much of anything as it can’t throw up.
What Fruits Are Safe for Horses?
Not all fruits are OK for horses to consume. For example, tomatoes contain substances that are toxic to horses. The same applies to any plants from the nightshade family.
Also, keep in mind that fruits that have “stones” can be hazardous for your horse as the stone could make it choke. For example, whole peaches, avocadoes, and cherries can all be risky. Nevertheless, you can still feed them to your horse if you remove the stones.
Other than that, all of the following fruits are safe for your horse to eat:
However, keep in mind that you must wash the fruits thoroughly before feeding them to your horse, especially if they’re not organic. You might also want to consider peeling the skin for more safety.
What Foods Are Bad for Horses?
Here’s a list of foods that you shouldn’t give to your horse under any circumstances:
- Meat products
- Caffeinated foods
- Bran products
Nutrition Tips for Your Horse
If you want to maintain a balanced diet for your horse, take note of the following tips:
- Limit your horse’s grain consumption
- Don’t make abrupt changes to its diet
- Feed it new foods gradually
- Include more forage in its diet
- Provide access to fresh, clean water all the time
- Mix in some vitamin or mineral supplements into your horse’s food when needed
- Alternate between different types of foods every once in a while
- Feed your horse hydrated foods to complement its daily water intake
- Keep track of your horse’s weight
Additionally, if your horse shows any illness symptoms after eating a particular food, stop feeding it and take it to the vet as quickly as possible. The vet may require a urine or blood test to diagnose your horse’s condition.
Many digestive problems in horses arise from improper nutrition. Since their digestive systems are delicate, you need to be extra careful about what type of food you feed your horse. And just because your friend’s horse can eat something doesn’t mean that your horse can, too.
For instance, some horses are naturally immune to tomato poisoning, but most are not. So, the wise thing to do here is to keep your horse away from tomatoes; it’s as simple as that!
If you were hesitant about feeding your horse blueberries, worry not! Blueberries are an excellent source of nutrients for your horse. They’re loaded with vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, and dietary fiber. On top of that, they’re low in sugar, fat, and calories, making them an ideal snack for horses.
Just make sure that you keep the quantities in check and wash the berries thoroughly before feeding them to your horse. It might also be a good idea to cut them into small halves.