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Can Horses Eat Bread?

Feeding bread to horses, including potential health risks and benefits, as well as tips for moderation and alternative treats to keep your equine friend happy and healthy.

Published: Apr 14, 2023

Can Horses Eat Bread?

Horses can eat bread in small amounts as an occasional treat. While bread is not toxic to horses, it is essential to understand that a horse's digestive system is designed to process forage, such as grass and hay, rather than refined carbohydrates found in bread. Feeding bread to your horse in large amounts can lead to digestive issues and other health problems.

When offering bread to your horses, opt for plain varieties like white or whole wheat, avoiding bread containing raisins, nuts, or seeds, as some of these ingredients may be toxic to horses. Break the bread into small pieces to make it easier for your horse to chew and digest. Always monitor your horse for any signs of abdominal pain or colic after feeding bread, as these may indicate that the bread is not being well-tolerated.

Although bread is not a natural part of a horse's diet, many horse owners choose to feed their horses bread as a treat. In some cases, bread may even be used as a vehicle for administering medications or supplements. However, it is crucial to remember that bread should not be a significant part of your horse's diet and should always be fed in moderation.

If you decide to feed bread to your horse, it is essential to be aware of any changes in their behavior or health. Some horses may develop a taste for bread and become demanding or even aggressive when expecting a treat. In such cases, it is necessary to reconsider whether feeding bread is the best choice for your horse.

Feeding Bread to Your Horse: Pros and Cons

There are pros and cons to feeding bread to your horse. One of the advantages is that bread can serve as a convenient and inexpensive treat. However, there are also downsides to consider.


  1. Inexpensive and readily available.

  2. Can be a tasty treat for horses when fed in moderation.


  1. Bread is high in calories and can contribute to weight gain if fed in excess.

  2. Refined carbohydrates in bread can cause blood sugar spikes, leading to metabolic syndrome or insulin resistance in susceptible horses.

  3. Feeding large amounts of bread may cause digestive issues such as abdominal pain or colic.

It's important to weigh the pros and cons before deciding to feed your horse bread. While the occasional treat may not cause any harm, excessive consumption of bread can lead to health problems. Additionally, some horses may have a sensitivity or intolerance to bread, which could result in digestive issues or discomfort.

Alternatives to Bread for Horses

If you are looking for healthier alternatives to bread for your horse, consider offering fruits and vegetables as treats. These options are generally more nutritious and lower in calories compared to bread. Some suitable options include apples, carrots, bananas, and celery.

Remember to introduce any new treats gradually into your horse's diet and observe for any adverse reactions. As with bread, treats should be fed in moderation and not replace a balanced, nutritious diet for your horse.

Other alternatives to bread include commercial horse treats, which are specifically formulated to meet the nutritional needs of horses. These treats may be more appropriate for your horse and offer a safer, more balanced option.

Is Bread Good for Horses to Eat?

While bread isn't inherently harmful to horses, it's important to remember that it's not the best food option for them. Horses primarily require a diet high in fiber and low in sugar, which is best provided by hay and grasses. Bread, on the other hand, is made from grains and can be high in starch, sugar, and calories.

Feeding your horse small amounts of bread occasionally as a treat is generally fine, but it's essential to monitor their overall diet and make sure they're getting the right balance of nutrients. Over time, a diet high in bread could potentially lead to issues like obesity, insulin resistance, and digestive problems. Additionally, it's crucial to avoid feeding moldy bread, as it can cause serious health problems for your horse.

What Kind of Bread Can Horses Eat?

If you decide to feed your horse bread, it's essential to choose the right type. Opt for plain, whole-grain bread, as it is more nutritious and less likely to cause digestive issues compared to white bread. Avoid bread with added sugars, fruits, or seeds, as they can pose a risk to your horse's health. Raisin bread, for example, should be avoided, as grapes and raisins can be toxic to horses.

Will Bread Fatten a Horse?

Bread can contribute to weight gain in horses, particularly if it's fed in large quantities or in conjunction with a diet already high in calories. This is because bread is calorie-dense and contains more sugars and starches than a horse's natural diet of hay and grasses. To avoid unnecessary weight gain, it's best to limit the amount of bread you feed your horse and ensure they have access to plenty of forage, exercise, and proper nutrition.

Why Not to Feed Horses Bread?

There are several reasons to be cautious about feeding horses bread, including:

  1. Bread is not a natural part of a horse's diet, which consists primarily of forage like hay and grasses.

  2. Bread is high in sugars and starches, which can lead to weight gain, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome if consumed in large quantities.

  3. Moldy bread can be toxic to horses and cause serious health issues.

  4. Some types of bread, like raisin bread, contain ingredients that are harmful to horses.

  5. Feeding large amounts of bread may displace more nutritious food sources, leading to an unbalanced diet.

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