Can Horses Eat Strawberries? ALL Revealed!

Horses and Strawberries

Can horses eat strawberries? This is a question many horse owners ask themselves. Horses are herbivores; they eat plants and grass to survive. Strawberries are rich in sugar. An equine does not require sugar to stay healthy. This article will discuss more on horses and the types of berries they can eat.

Can Horses Have Strawberries?

Horses can eat and digest a wide range of forage and food sources. They can thrive on many types of vegetation, grasses, roots, tree bark or twigs, leaves, and branches.

Strawberries can be poisonous to horses if fed in large quantities over some time. The poison can cause colic and digestive problems such as diarrhea, lethargy, and weight loss. In addition, too many strawberries can also cause bloating and indigestion. This will affect the intake of their regular daily feeds.

Horses can eat a variety of berries but should avoid eating any sour or acidic fruit. However, small amounts of strawberries are safe for horses to eat. They can eat the strawberries fresh, frozen, or dried. Fresh strawberries are the best option because they contain the most nutrients.

Dried strawberries also offer some health benefits. Horses can eat up to two cups of strawberries per week. The fruit has a high sugar content, which can harm your horse’s teeth. If your horse has a dental issue, avoid feeding them any fruit.

If your horse has insulin resistance, consult your vet first before feeding strawberries.

Strawberry on a wooden background

How Can Horses Benefit from Eating Strawberries?

Below are some benefits horses derive from eating strawberries;

  • Strawberries are a good source of vitamin C. The vitamin is essential for horses because it helps with wound healing, bone growth, and repairing cartilage. 
  • The fruit is also an antioxidant that can help protect the body against free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage cells and DNA, leading to inflammation and disease.
  • The antioxidants in strawberries can help prevent or slow down the effects of free radical damage. They are also rich in polyphenols, which support immunity. It is also great for managing weight, digestion, and cardiovascular issues.
  • Strawberries are a good source of dietary fiber, which is vital for horses because it helps with digestion and prevents colic. Fiber also helps keep the gut healthy by providing food for the beneficial bacteria that live there.
  • Strawberries contain a small amount of calcium, vital for horses because they need calcium to maintain strong bones and teeth.
  • They are rich in magnesium and potassium, which help reduce high blood pressure. It also aids in muscle function of contraction and relaxation.
  • Strawberries are juicy and have a lot of water that can be a source of hydration during hot days.

How Many Strawberries Can a Horse Eat?

As mentioned before, horses can only eat up to two cups of strawberries per week. This is equivalent to 8-16 fresh strawberries, depending on the size of the fruit. Do not overfeed your horse with strawberries to avoid stomach upset or diarrhea. Remember to slice the strawberries before feeding your horse to prevent choking.

If you include fresh strawberries in horse food, do it in the morning before the usual feeding time. It will help minimize the risk of them getting sick. If you are feeding it strawberries for the first time, observe any unusual reaction on the horse. It is important to consult your vet if your horse has other health issues.

Handful of Fresh Strawberries

Potential Strawberry Hazards to Equines

Strawberries can be a good fruit source for horses if consumed in moderation. Too much intake can cause illnesses to the horse. Some horses get allergic reactions when they eat strawberries. You have to be careful and observe when you introduce strawberries to your horse.

The main harmful compound found in strawberries is oxalic acid. This compound can bind calcium and other minerals in the gut, preventing absorption. It can lead to deficiencies in these minerals and can cause problems such as diarrhea, weight loss, and even renal failure in severe cases.

Oxalic acid can also be directly irritating to animals’ mouths, esophagus, stomach, and intestines. The ingestion can irritate these organs and cause pain when eating. It can also cause sores in the mouth. Ingestion can also result in excessive drooling and colic symptoms such as sweating and restlessness.

Another compound found in strawberries is salicylic acid. It is a natural plant hormone and can cause horses to sweat and increase heart rate. In severe cases, it can lead to abortions.

Strawberries also contain cyanide, which is harmful to horses if taken in large amounts. For these reasons, it is essential to give the recommended amount per day. Inform your vet if you notice any changes after feeding your horse with strawberries.

Which Other Berries Can Horses Safely Eat?

There are several other berries that horses can eat in moderation, just like the strawberries. They include; blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, cherries, and red grapes.

What can horses not eat? Horses should avoid eating other types of poisonous berries such as azaleas, mountain laurels, and kalmia. They contain cyanide, which is harmful if taken in excess.

Fresh Berries

Final Thoughts

Strawberries are a nutritious fruit that horses can eat in moderation. They contain vitamin C, antioxidants, dietary fiber, and calcium. All of which are important for equines to stay healthy. Strawberries have a great taste and are an excellent way to add variety to your horse’s diet. 

Be careful to identify other types of berries that are harmful to your horse. Don’t include any type of berries in your horse’s food. Some will cause illnesses to your horse. 

There are different opinions from horse owners on if they should eat or not. Some believe they should not eat strawberries at all. Others think they should eat in moderation. It all depends on your horse and what the vet recommends. It can be good, and also not suitable for your horse.