Everyone loves eating strawberries, especially in the sweltering summer heat. They make for a light, refreshing snack that slightly eases the unrelenting weather.
Now, you may have been tempted to share a few with your horse. But are they safe for horses to eat? All horse lovers know that not all foods that are safe for humans are automatically safe for horses. So, are strawberries in the harmful food category? Keep on reading to discover the answer.
Is It Safe for Horses to Eat Strawberries?
Yes, absolutely. Just like apples, strawberries are a-okay for your horse to eat. Not only are they delicious, but they’re also very nutritious and provide your horse with numerous benefits.
However, as with everything, the key is moderation. Just because your horses love strawberries doesn’t mean that you should feed them the lovely fruit whenever they feel like it.
A horse needs a balanced diet. One that’s based on strawberries won’t supply your horses with the nutrients they need. Accordingly, strawberries should remain an occasional treat. You should only give as a reward for obedience or to change up your horse’s diet every now and then.
What Are the Benefits of Strawberries?
First off, strawberries are 91% water. That means that they can give your little horsey a boost of hydration. Whenever they eat a couple of delicious berries in the hot summer weather.
Moreover, strawberries are very low in calories, with only about 32 calories in 100 grams of strawberries. This equates to anywhere from 2 to 9 calories per strawberry, wholly depending on its size. Accordingly, any horse that’s struggling with weight loss. They can eat a few strawberries as a treat and be none the worse for wear.
Furthermore, strawberries mostly contain carbohydrates (7.7 gm) and sugars (4.9 gm). They also contain protein (0.7 gm) to a lesser extent. Not only will the sugar and carbs make for a delicious treat. This tempts the poorest of eaters to have some more. They’ll also provide your horse with an energy boost that’ll keep him going for quite some time.
Finally, strawberries are full of various vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals essential for every horse’s health and well-being. Mineral-wise, strawberries contain minute amounts of phosphorus, calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, copper, manganese.
Alternatively, they contain a good amount of vitamin C, which goes into many body functions such as the immunologic response, wound repair, iron absorption, as well as proper growth and development. Moreover, it helps in preventing cardiovascular diseases, arthritis, eye problems, and even cancer. This is due to its role as an antioxidant that fights against harmful free radicals.
Other vitamins in strawberries include vitamin B9, vitamin B6, vitamin K, and vitamin E. These all play a specific role in maintaining and regulating normal body activities, from blood cell production to brain health.
As you can see, just by munching on one or two strawberries. Your horse will get a lot of nutrients. This means that you can decrease the number of supplements your horse has to take. So, all in all, strawberries are highly beneficial for horses. However, there are some cases when strawberries may not be the best thing.
When Are Strawberries Bad for Horses?
If Given in Excess
As with any other food, strawberries should be slowly introduced into a horse’s regular diet. The reason lies in the fact that a horse’s digestive system is highly sensitive and can only tolerate a small amount of nourishment given over short intervals.
Unlike us, horses are unable to burp. So, when you suddenly give your horse a bucket-full of strawberries, its digestive system won’t be able to handle it, and your horse may show signs of bloating, nausea, diarrhea, and overall digestive exhaustion.
Now, while some horses may be able to cope well with the strawberry overload, giving any horse more than a handful of strawberries is still not recommended for two reasons.
The first is when a horse fills up on strawberries, it can’t eat its main diet. Consequently, it doesn’t get all its required nutrients, and if this becomes a common occurrence, a horse can end up developing nutritional deficiencies and anemia.
The second reason it’s not advisable to feed a horse more than a couple of berries at a time is that strawberries are acidic in nature and contain a good amount of sugar. As such, they can upset the bacterial flora in a horse’s digestive tract, and if that happens, a horse may develop colic, which can be quite painful, if not fatal, when severe.
Unfortunately, most fruits, strawberries included, are regularly sprayed with various chemicals like pesticides and insecticides. These chemicals can cause a myriad of problems, including nausea, dizziness, and poor immunity.
Accordingly, it’s imperative that you meticulously wash any fruit or vegetable before giving it to your beloved horse to remove any residual chemicals present on them.
While most strawberries are small enough to avoid becoming a choking hazard for horses, some strawberries can be quite large. Sure, your horse will probably chew the fruit before swallowing it, but not all horses do so.
Some are very impatient and tend to gulp down their food. Unfortunately, if the strawberry is big enough, it can cause airway obstruction. As such, you should always cut the strawberries into small pieces to eliminate this issue from occurring.
You should never feed your horse any rotten or moldy strawberries. Mold can upset a horse’s stomach and cause symptoms like nausea and diarrhea. Accordingly, once a strawberry has gone bad, it should be immediately disposed of.
Tip: To prevent your strawberries from going moldy, you should place them in the refrigerator in an airtight bag/container without washing them or removing their stalk. This storage method can make your strawberries last up to a week without going bad or forming mold.
Surprisingly, not all horses are capable of eating strawberries. For instance, some may be allergic to the fruit, showing respiratory or skin reactions after eating it. Moreover, some horses can have insulin resistance, aka diabetes, which makes having sugary treats like strawberries a risk unless otherwise specified by the vet.
Therefore, before you go ahead and give your horse plenty of strawberries, you should see how it reacts to just 1 or 2. If all goes well, then it’s okay to feed your horse a couple of strawberries on the regular. On the other hand, if you find your horse feeling unwell or behaving out of the ordinary, you should immediately call the vet and see what he has to say about the situation.
What About Strawberry Snacks and Treats?
Strawberry-based treats and cookies, found at a feed store or baked at your home, are totally all right for horses to eat. As long as you limit your horses’ supply, they’ll be happy to eat the strawberry goodness and won’t have to suffer any nasty consequences.
Is It Okay to Feed Your Horse the Strawberry Stalk/Leaves?
Though the green parts of the strawberries are edible, they can cause your horse some harm as the stalk emits a particular toxin that keeps pests away. Accordingly, it’s highly recommended that you remove the stalk and leaves before offering any strawberry to your magnificent steed.
However, hold off on hulling your strawberries or removing the leaves before you’re ready to feed them to your horse. This action exposes the fruit’s flesh to the surrounding air and bacteria, ultimately making the strawberries go bad faster than usual. Consequently, you should keep the green bits and only remove them right before giving your horse its treat.
How Should You Feed Your Horse Strawberries?
As you’ve probably gathered, you should only give your horse 1-2 strawberries a day or 6-10 per week to prevent any gastric discomfort or pain. Any more, and you’ll be tempting the fates.
Anyways, when you come to feed your horse those two strawberries, make sure to thoroughly rinse them under running water to remove any harmful chemicals and pesticides. Then, remove the stalk/cap and cut the strawberries up if they’re on the bigger side.
It goes without saying that the strawberries should be fresh and ripe, with no mold spots or squishy parts to avoid upsetting your horse’s stomach. Finally, If your horse is feeling the heat, freezing the strawberries and allowing them to slightly thaw out will make for a refreshing treat that’ll cool your horse down and put some extra water in its body.
In Conclusion, Can Horses Eat Strawberries?
That’s a definite yes. Not only do strawberries make for a tasty snack, but they also provide your horse with numerous health benefits. So, next time you want to treat your pony, whip out a strawberry, and your horse will love you for it.
Still, remember to only serve the berries after adequately washing and cutting them and never give your horse more than a couple a day.