Are Horses Omnivores : Interesting Facts and FAQs


Do horses eat meat sometimes?

Horses are natural grazers. And since their food mainly consists of plant matters and fibers, their digestive system is quite different from humans’. 

No, it is not natural for horses to eat meat but they can eat them on rare occasions. Horses’ digestive system is not set up to process and digest meat, as their liver is not designed to flush out the residual meat particles.

Although a small bit of meatball or hot dog may not cause any harm to them, it is never encouraged to include meat in their diet. Horses can eat meat but meat doesn’t pose a healthy option for them if taken regularly for a prolonged time. That being said, horses can eat meat to survive in the absence of any plant-based food.

Are wild horses omnivores?

A horse diet is mainly comprised of plant fibers, including grass, hay, etc. They can solely survive on a plant diet. But, there is always an ongoing confusion, if wild horses are omnivorous.

The answer is no, wild horses are not omnivorous. Like any other horse, they are also herbivorous and can sustain themselves on plant matters. Omnivorous animals eat foods that include both plant and animal diets, and since horses’ digestive system is not set up to digest meat, they cannot consume the latter.

Are seahorses omnivores?

Seahorses are not horses. They are similar to each other only in a vague visual resemblance. While horses are land-dwelling mammals, seahorses are sea or ocean-dwelling fishes.

Seahorses are carnivorous. Their diet consists of amphipods, smaller shrimp, fish larvae, and other small sea creatures they can suck into their snouts. Seahorses do not have teeth and stomachs so they suck in their food and swallow it whole, which passes straight through their digestive system.

Although seahorses are basically carnivorous, they will eat algae, seagrass, and kelp, occasionally. That being said, it is to remember that these are not their primary food. On average an adult seahorse will eat 30 to 50 times per day, while a baby seahorse will eat almost 3000 pieces of food per day.

What do wild horses like to eat?

Horses are herbivorous animals with modified monogastic digestive systems. Be it a wild horse or a domesticated one, their main diet consists of plant matters like grass, hay, grains, small shrubs, and plants.

Wild horses like to graze on large open areas of pasture land, eating shrubs, small plants, grass, and seed head of grasses. Unlike domesticated horses, they eat what they find near them in the wild. Since they need to search for their forage, wild horses can graze up to 15- 17 hours a day.

Wild horses do not get their food readily like the domesticated ones. They depend entirely on forage they could find. As a result, in most cases, you will find these horses with their heads down grazing on the land. Moreover, these horses like to live near the supplies of freshwater.

Can horses eat ice cream?

Horses are versatile animals and have been human companions since time immortal. Although horses have a high adjusting capacity, they have certain limitations when it comes to their food habit.

Horses are lactose intolerant, which means they cannot digest dairy products like milk, cheese, yogurt, and even ice cream. Although dairy products may not be outright poisonous for horses, they can cause digestion issues. Hence, adult horses should not drink milk, which may be nutritious for the babies although.

However, you can still feed ice- lollies to your horses made with their favorite foods like carrots, apples, melons, berries, and so on. Freeze these in molds overnight and you are ready with your horse’s favorite summer treat.  

Can horses eat bread?

The dough is not a very friendly food matter for horses. Although dishes made from dough may not be harmful or poisonous for them if fed occasionally, they are not nutritious.

So, the answer is simple- no, horses can eat, but they should not be fed bread on a regular basis. In horses, bread can cause a blockage which can lead to colic. Hence, bread should be kept at bay.

Here, we must remember that something that is not specifically designed or formulated for horses to eat can shift the nutrient balance of the total diet.

Can horses eat butter?

We have already mentioned that horses are lactose intolerant, and feeding them with any such product, for the long term, can cause digestion issues.

That being said horses can eat butter, occasionally. However, the focus should be given on not feeding them butter regularly. Horses are strict vegetarians and we must not feed them any meat or animal byproducts. The main reason behind saying so is that too much lactose intake can cause liver failure or death.

Occasions, when you must avoid feeding your horse with butter include metabolic syndrome and allergy. Among the alternatives, you feed your horse apples, carrots, pumpkins, bananas, berries, etc.

Can horses eat flour?

Horses must not be fed anything other than green plan matters. What is best to feed them include plants, smalls scrubs, hay, grains, etc.

Nonetheless, a little flour is okay for the horses on an occasional basis. You could bake them some cookies or biscuits to treat them from time to time. A little bit of wheat-based flour is fine for horses. However, you can make their treat healthier by adding carrots and eliminating any sugar bases component.

It is always advised to not give horses plain flour, as there is no dietary benefit for them.

Can horses eat oranges?

Fruits can be an excellent source of vitamin C for horses. They love to eat fruits. But every kind of fruit may not be suitable for them.

Oranges can be fed to horses. But before you feed them, remember to peel the orange and cut it in half. It is always better to feed your horse fruits in small pieces. Oranges contain nutrients and antioxidants that can be beneficial for horses.

So, if you feel like treating your horse some fruits, you can safely start with oranges. However, oranges must not be included in the horses’ main meal, and should only be given as a treat in small quantities.

Can horses eat tomatoes

Although horses love to be fed with small treats of veggies and fruits, certain food items may pose poisonous to them.

Tomatoes belong to the poisonous category. Horses cannot and should not be fed with tomatoes. Tomatoes, being a member of the toxic Solanaceae plant family, can cause colic by slowing gut function in horses. Also, tomatoes contain hyoscyamine, which may lead to a decrease in saliva production and intestinal motility, along with increased heart rate, causing constipation and diarrhea. So, it is always better to keep horses away from tomatoes to avoid any issues.

Can horses eat cinnamon

Cinnamon is a wonderful spice that only warms up the human body but also adds amazing flavor to our favorite drinks. Although this spice is beneficial for humans, can horses take them too?

In some of the recent research works, it has been found that horses can consume cinnamon or cinnamon powder. According to ASPCA, cinnamon is non-toxic to horses and can be given them safely. Nonetheless, this spice should be given with caution, and in small doses.

Also, it is advised to consult a veterinarian before feeding your horse with cinnamon. Horses with medical conditions, like high levels of insulin sensitivity, should not be given this spice.

Can horses eat eggs?

Eggs are an excellent and well-known source of protein. Not only this, but eggs are also a rich source of amino acids, which are beneficial for humans. But can horses consume eggs too?

The answer to this question is shrouded with ambiguity. Some would say yes, whereas some would not support feeding eggs to horses. Nonetheless, it is often claimed that feeding horses with a few eggs will not cause them any harm. But like flour and bread, horses should be fed eggs only occasionally.

Despite the ambiguity, eggs have been a common addition to the diet of racehorses. It is believed that adding eggs to the horse diet enhances the shine of their coat and hair.

Can horses eat potatoes?

Horses are cardinally herbivorous animals and their diet mainly includes plant matters. However, not all plant matters are healthy for them. So, it is essential to take care of their daily diet.

No, horses must not consume potatoes. Potatoes belong to the nightshade family, which contains atropine. Consuming atropine may have negative impacts on horses’ nervous systems. There is even more, as an overdose of atropine may increase the toxicity level in their body causing death.

Can horses eat onions?

Vegetables are good for horses but not all of them. There are some vegetables that must be avoided being fed to your horse at any cost. These vegetables may cause digestion problems in horses along with causing other serious health issues.

One such vegetable, that you must avoid feeding your horse, is onion. Onions, along with chives and shallots, belong to the Allium family, which if ingested could be toxic to horses. The presence of the chemical N-propyl disulfide can damage the red blood cells, causing anemia to the equines.

Can horses eat cheese?

Cheeses are indeed tasty and can be a great add-on to burgers and sandwiches. But cheese is made from milk and therefore is a dairy product.

So, it is not the best idea to feed cheese to horses. We have already mentioned that horses tend to be lactose intolerant and feeding them cheese may cause digestion issues. Other health issues that horses tend to face if fed with cheese on regular basis include diarrhea and colic.

Can horses eat sweet potatoes?

There are a lot of veggies that do not go well with horses’ digestive systems. But nonetheless, it is necessary to feed them with fresh snacks and give them a break from eating hays and grains.

One of the most favorite fresh vegetables in this regard can be sweet potatoes. Yes, horses can eat sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes contain beneficial nutrition that is equine friendly. 1 cup of cubed sweet potatoes contain the following nutrition

Calories114
Potassium448 mg
Sodium73 mg
Fiber4 g
Carbohydrates27 g
Protein2.1 g
Sugar6 g
The nutritional content of 1 cup of cubed sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes can be fed in both forms- raw as well as cooked. That being said, if your horse has softer teeth or any dental problem, it is always recommended to feed them cooked sweet potatoes. However, like any carb food, these vegetables also contain sugar in good quantity. So, feeding them in moderation is always advised.

Do horses eat apples?

An apple a day can keep the doctor away! But is the case the same for the equines? Undoubtedly fruits have taken a major place in horse diet. But too much of any fruit can be harmful to them.

But horses can and do eat apples. However, as we have said, too much of any fruit, including apples, can cause issues too. A belly full of apples can easily lead to colic and other digestion-related problems.

Since horses love apples, it is better to treat them with 1 or 2 pieces at a time, and that too intermittently. On the positive side, apples contain antioxidants and fibers, which can treat inflammation and improve bowel movement, respectively.

Can horses eat watermelon?

As the summer approaches, we often feel to feed horses with melons to keep them cool. But are those melons, especially watermelons, safe for the equines?

The answer is yes, they are safe and horses can consume watermelons in small quantities. The watermelon rinds provide beneficial amino acids and vitamins that are good for the horses. But remember to wash the melons to remove any pesticide and cut them into smaller bits before you feed them to your horse.

You can feed them the ripe part along with the seeds. But as with any other fruit, feeding watermelon should also be kept moderate to avoid any digestion issues.

You should avoid feeding your horse watermelon if it has any of the following health issues:

  • Insulin resistance
  • Dental problem
  • Hyperkalemic periodic paralysis (or HYPP)

Do horses eat carrots?

Carrots are a high source of vitamin A. They are also low in cholesterol and saturated fats. So, if you love feeding your horse with occasional treats, carrots may be the first thing to think of. But do horses eat carrots?

Yes, horses love to eat carrots. And they can be fed carrots as well. There is no harm in treating your horse with small chunks of carrots as special treats. But like other treats, keep feeding carrots in moderation.

Can horses eat celery?

Horses love to graze on grass, their main meal. But have you ever wondered do they love to eat celery as well? Or can they eat celery as a part of the meal?

If you are wondering about the above questions then the answer is yes. Horses can eat celery for more than one reason. Celery is low in sugar content and is highly fibrous. So, feeding horses with this particular vegetable can prove to be beneficial.

The nutritional content of celery include:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B9
  • Fiber
  • Vitamin C
  • Phosphorus
  • Magnesium
  • Vitamin K

While feeding celery try not to exceed more than 2 pounds at a time and that too twice a week.

Can horses eat lettuce?

Horses are herbivorous animals, and we may think that all green leafy food matters are healthy for them. But it is necessary to confirm if the vegetable you are planning to feed your horse is beneficial for it.

Like carrots and celery, horses can eat lettuces. Lettuces belong to the category of vegetables that contain a high quantity of vitamins, fibers, and folic acids. So, feeding your horse with lettuce in limited quantities can actually do well to their health. 

Some of the good varieties of lettuces to feed your horse with may include:

  • Cress
  • Crisphead
  • Bibb
  • Romaine
  • Oakleaf

Can horses eat cucumber?

Every horse owner knows that equines love treating on vegetables. But when it comes to including new veggies in their palette, we might wonder which vegetable would be most beneficial for them.

So, if you want to know if horses can eat cucumber, the answer would be definitely yes! Much like celery and lettuce, cucumber can be a great treat to your horse in the summer months. Cucumbers offer horses all the needed vitamins and anti-oxidants along with potassium and fiber.

The water content in cucumbers can be especially healthy for the horses that need extra hydration. The best cucumbers to feed your horse can be the organic ones that are free from pesticides and other chemicals.

Can horses eat cabbage?

Every vegetable is not safe for horses. So, before deciding to include any new veggie in their diet, it is better to check its suitability with the horse’s metabolism.

One vegetable all horse owners should say NO is cabbage. Although filled with green, cabbages belong to the cruciferous family, which contain raffinose, a type of sugar. Raffinose may cause intestinal gas in horses causing abdominal pain and colic.

Although feeding cabbage once in a while may not be outright dangerous for horses, keeping them highly limited is always recommended.

What do horses drink?

We all know that horses love grazing on grass and other plant matters. But along with feeding themselves with forage, horses also need to hydrate themselves and intake fluid.

Horses can absolutely drink water to keep themselves hydrated. But apart from water what are the other drinks they can drink? To get answers let us refer to the following table:

Coffee/ Tea/ Caffeine productsNo
BeerYes, in moderation
WhiskeyYes, in moderation
MilkNo
Soda/ Carbonated drinksNo
ElectrolyteYes
Drinks horses can and cannot drink

How much water does a horse drink per day in liters?

Horses, be the domesticated ones or the wild ones, need to keep themselves hydrated throughout the day. This is needed especially during the hot summer days.

A fully mature horse needs about 18.9 to 37.8 liters of freshwater every day. This much water is required by them to keep themselves fully hydrated and colic at bay. However, during the winter months, due to the consumption of dry hay and grass, horses may need to consume more water than they do in the summer months.

Although horses can survive without food for around 25 days, they can only live without water for 5- 6 days.

How much water does a donkey drink per day?

Much like the horses, donkeys also undertake heavy tasks like carrying loads. So, it is essential to take care if their daily need for hydration is getting fulfilled.

A fully grown donkey would require 18- 35 liters of fresh drinking water on a daily basis. However, it is interesting to note that donkeys have the lowest water requirement of almost all domestic animals. They can almost lose 30% of their body weight to dehydration without any negative consequences.

How much water does a pony drink a day?

Ponies also belong to the equine family, and like adult horses, they also need to be fed with fresh water. So, there is a need to keep a constant supply of fresh water for the ponies.

As per most studies, a mini horse or pony will need a minimum of 18 liters of water on a daily basis. This is true for the summer days, as during the winters they consume around 9 liters of water every day. Although there is no set amount of water for your pony to drink daily, it is better to keep a check if they are well hydrated.

It should be checked if your pony is drinking too much water. Excess water can create stress on their kidneys leading to health problems.

How much water does a horse drink in hot weather?

Along with their food, every horse must have access to fresh drinking water round the clock. Especially during the hot summer months, there should be no shortage of water supply to them.

In hot weather, a 500 kg horse would consume around 30-50 liters a day. This amount can vary depending on the health condition of the horse and the task it undertakes. In the case of a mare, she may need more water because the milk that she is making to feed the foal requires water.

Horses that graze constantly on rapid-growing grass may require less water during summer months, as the grass that they are eating has high water content.

How to make a horse drink water?

Although feeding your horse with water is absolutely necessary, sometimes it may refuse to drink. If the water is dirty, smelly, or polluted, a horse may refuse to drink, even to the point of dehydration.

So, to make sure that your horse drinks water, ensure to keep it clean and fresh. If you are taking your horse out, you can carry some water from home with you, which your horse can access. Also, you can mix some home water with the new water to make it familiar.

Horse owners, living in cold or semi-arid zones, have found that offering their horses warn water during winter can lead them to drink more water. Other ways to feed your horse water may include:

  • Wetting your horse’s feed
  • Putting apples or carrots in their water
  • Putting electrolytes in the horse’s food
  • Leading your horse to the water source
  • Keeping the water source easy to access

Horses are genetically designed to feed on plant matters, including hay, grass, small plants, and so on. Feeding them any animal product or by-product, regularly, can be harmful. Nonetheless, all plant products are not good for horses, as well. So, feeding them cautiously is essential.