Human confectionary can be a minefield for our pets and chocolate is often one of the worst ones. But is that also true of horses? Can horses eat chocolate or is i as toxic for them as it is for other pets? That’s the question that we have on the agenda in this article.
Can Horses Eat Chocolate?
The reason that chocolate is so bad for cats and dogs (see Cat Nutrition and Dog Nutrition) is because of a chemical called theobromine, as well as caffeine. These chemicals may trigger feelings of stimulation and well being in humans, but they are very toxic to animals who are much more sensitive to them than we are.
Horses can not eat chocolate because they, like dogs and cats, react poorly to this chemical and large amounts of it may have fatal consequences. Chocolate can be lethal to horses if the right amount of it is consumed and horses will likely eat this amount if they are given the chance. There are many cases of chocolate toxicity leading to the death of horses around the world, but many of these seem to occur during cocoa farming, when the horses have accessed large quantities of nearby raw chocolate and have gone on to suffer fatal consequences.
Should I Worry if My Horse Eats Chocolate?
The problem with chocolate is that animals don’t seem to know it is bad for them. You could argue that us humans are the same! Just like dogs, horses will happily chomp through a chocolate bar if one is within reach, not quite understanding what it can do to them. In many cases, animals are just not drawn to foods that are toxic to them, but there are exceptions and just like shiny, beckoning red berries, or juicy mushrooms that beckon humans before making them suffer, this indulgence will likely leave them feeling pretty sorry.
It is unlikely to be fatal in small quantities though. We have spoken with horse owners who have reported times when their children have unwittingly given a small chocolate bar to one of their horses and there have been no major consequences. There have also been reports of stolen chocolate bars not resulting in issues.
You can’t ignore the fact that this substance is toxic and that it should not be given to them, but you probably need not worry if they have taken a small amount without you knowing.
Can Horses Eat Candy?
Just because horses like sugar cubes doesn’t mean they should eat a lot of them or that you should start feeding them candy. While small amounts will probably not do them harm if the horse has sneakily stolen them from your pocket or hand, you should avoid giving them directly. Don’t make a habit of feeding your animal something that can cause it harm.
Candy isn’t just sugar. It’s refined sugars and syrups. It’s sweeteners, colors and preservatives. It is a host of chemicals and additives and none of these should be consumed willingly because none of them will do you horse’s health any favor.
So, take a peek at our Horse Nutrition page to learn what the ultimate diet is and make sure you don’t deviate too much from this.