We all know of a horse’s love for apples, but have you ever thought to offer your horse something other than an apple for a treat? Say, a pear, for example? Well, you’re not the first one.
The sweet and crunchy fruit are on every horse’s wishlist, but is it safe to offer one to your horse? Well, we’ll tell you all you need to know about pears and horses, and then you’ll know the answer.
Are Pears Okay for Horses to Eat?
Most definitely. In fact, pears aren’t only okay. They’re actually quite beneficial and make for a natural, healthy snack that any horse would find delicious. So, whether you’d like to encourage your horse for its obedience or add some variety into its diet, pears can be just the thing.
However, pears can be harmful in some instances. Now, why is that?
Well, the trick with pears, as with any other food, lies in moderation. You give a horse too many pears; you’ll start seeing undesired effects. However, if you stick to a small amount, your horse will be both happy and healthy.
What Are the Nutritional Benefits of Pears?
So, other than the sweet taste of pears, what makes this fruit so beloved in the equine community?
Well, for one, pears are rich in fibers. These fibers can slow down the movements of your horse’s digestive system, allowing its body adequate time to absorb the nutrients it needs while also preventing constipation.
Moreover, one fiber, in particular, called pectin, coats and strengthens a horse’s stomach lining. This ultimately reduces the chance of your darling horse developing illnesses like stomach ulcers due to abdominal acid accumulation.
One more benefit that pears offer is their hydration ability. Since they’re basically made of 80% water, eating a pear or two can put a considerable amount of fluids in your little pony. This really comes in handy during the sweltering summer months, when horses can become easily dehydrated.
On another positive note, pears also contain quite a good amount of vitamins and minerals. For instance, they contain vitamin B2, which is 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, as well as skin, ligament, and tendon integrity.
These two vitamins are also powerful antioxidants, meaning that they can protect your horse from free radicals that may result in cancer down the line. They also have an anti-inflammatory effect, consequently decreasing the chance of your horse developing arthritis and other inflammatory conditions.
As for the mineral content of pears, you’ll find various minerals like copper and potassium. Basically, copper contributes to a good immune function and goes into developing and maintaining many tissues and organs like the heart, blood vessels, nerves, and bones.
Meanwhile, potassium is essential for proper muscle contraction, nerve signals, and fluid regulation. Besides, it can help prevent kidney stones, osteoporosis, water retention, and high blood pressure.
So, as you can see, pears, with all their nutrients, can present numerous health benefits for both horses and humans.
When Can Pears Be Harmful?
In Large Quantities
As good as we’ve made pears sound out to be, they can actually be harmful. However, the danger doesn’t lie with the actual fruit but with how you give said fruit to your horse.
For example, giving your horse too many pears will cause quite a few problems.
For one, if it’s the first time that your horse has eaten pears, the unfamiliar fruit can disturb their digestion and cause issues like gas, bloating, and diarrhea. Moreover, the horses will feel awfully full, which will make them start dismissing their usual diet that’s loaded with the necessary nutrients.
Furthermore, pears are full of sugar. With regular consumption of large quantities, your horse will readily put on 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, and you don’t want your pony to be in pain, do you?
In 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.
Accordingly, a horse can easily choke on a pear’s core or even a large piece of the fruit. If the unfortunate happens and you find your horse gagging, coughing, or gasping for breath, make sure to call the vet and follow his instructions to save your horse from throat damage, pneumonia, and even death.
One more thing that can cause your horse grief after eating pears is the chemicals/insecticides present on the fruit. Be it home-grown or store-bought pears, there’s a high chance that those pears have been sprayed with a sort of chemical.
So, if you give any horse a pear without properly washing it and removing all chemical residues and dirt, they’ll start having digestive troubles, accompanied by discomfort and pain.
When Unsuitable for a Horse’s Medical Condition
As we’ve previously mentioned, pears have a high sugar content, with about 17 gm of sugar in a medium pear. While some horses can get to 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 insulin-resistance/metabolic disorders. In addition, horses with a condition called hyperkalemic periodic paralysis should also steer away from pears due to their potassium content.
How Should You Feed Your Horse a Pear?
So, now that you know how not to feed your horse pears, it’s time to know the right way to do it.
First off, get a fresh, ripe pear. Then, thoroughly wash that pear under running water and remove any dirt or soil you see. You can peel the fruit if you want, but the rind is perfectly acceptable for horses to eat.
Once you’re done washing the pear, cut it into small, edible pieces and remove the core with all its seeds. The pear will now be safe for your horse to eat, provided you offer it one piece at a time, without going overboard with the total amount.
Generally, it’s recommended you feed your horse about 1-2 medium-sized pears per day, which roughly equates to a pound a day. Still, don’t give it pears more than 2 or 3 times weekly and try to stay in the range of 8-12 pears per week.
Tip: Unsweetened, cooked pears are an excellent option for horses with teeth problems. Though they have a lower nutritional value than raw pears, they’re still very nutritious and make for a yummy treat.
Can Horses Eat Pear Seeds?
Well, yes and no. If it’s just a few seeds here and there, then it’s no big deal. However, regular consumption of pear seeds can be pretty bad. That’s because these seeds contain a material called amygdalin, which produces cyanide when eaten.
Cyanide is a dangerous toxin that can harm humans and horses alike, though it’ll take quite a large number of seeds before dangerous levels are reached. So, to take the worry off your mind, it’s best you remove any seeds before giving the fruit to your steed.
Are Canned Pears Safe for Horses?
Sadly, that’s a big, fat no. Canned pears are highly saturated with sugar. Not only that but they’re also stored in preservatives. Accordingly, a horse that regularly eats canned pears will be at risk of obesity, metabolic disorders, and digestive troubles. So, always stick to fresh, ripe pears, and your horse will thank you for it.
Can Horses Eat Pear Leaves?
While pear trees and their leaves aren’t toxic to horses, it’s still not advisable to let your horse nibble on them. One too many leaves can upset a horse’s stomach, leading to digestion issues and even colics. So, don’t give your horses access to a pear tree and remove each pear’s stem and leaves before serving them.
In Conclusion, Can Horses Eat Pears?
That’s a loud and resounding YES. Horses are more than welcome to munch on a pear or two throughout the day. This fruit isn’t only extremely tasty, but it’s also packed with various nutrients that provide numerous health benefits.
Nevertheless, to prevent your horse from experiencing any ill effects, introduce the fruit slowly into your horse’s diet and don’t exceed the recommended amount. Finally, always make sure to wash and chop up the pears into small edible pieces, and your horse will be just fine.