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Can Horses Eat Apples? What You Need to Know!

Oliver Jones

A crunchy, shiny red apple is a wonderful thing to bite into, and you may have noticed your horse looking longingly at you while you crunch away at this delicious fruit. But can horses eat apples? Are apples good for horses?

The short and simple answer is yes, apples are a healthy and safe treat to give your horse occasionally, as long as they are fresh, clean, and given in moderation. Too much of a good thing can be problematic, though. Apples can cause gastric issues in horses if eaten too much, and they are fairly high in sugar.

If you are considering feeding apples to your horses, read on for everything that you need to know.divider-horse

Are apples good for horses?

For the most part, apples are a perfectly healthy snack that most horses love. Apples are packed with vitamin A, which will aid in your horse’s vision, immune function, red blood cell function, and vitamin C, both of which are powerful antioxidants that work by fighting free radicals. Apples are also high in potassium, which aids in your horse’s muscle function, and high in fiber, for a healthy digestive system.

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Credit: SergeyPerm73, Shutterstock

There are a ton of different varieties of apples available, and horses can safely eat any color, including red, yellow, and green. Almost all apple varieties that you’d find in a supermarket are safe for horses, including Granny Smith, Fuji, Red Delicious, and Pink Lady apples.

Potential problems to keep in mind

While apples are generally safe for horses, there are potential issues to keep in mind. Firstly, avoid giving your horse too many apples, as this can cause colic and other painful stomach issues for your horse. One or two apples a day at most is ideal, although one every other day is best. Remember that horses with any insulin issues should not be given any fruit treats, including apples, due to the high sugar content.

Another potential issue is your horse’s teeth. While apples contain what is considered “good” sugar, it is still sugar and has the potential to damage your horse’s teeth in excess. You should be especially cautious if your horse already has any dental issues.

We recommend cutting the apple up into smaller pieces to make it easier for your horse to chew and to avoid any choking hazards. Most healthy adult horses shouldn’t have any issues with chewing up an entire apple, but older horses with dental issues will need the apple cut into manageable pieces.

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What about apple seeds?

Apple seeds contain a substance called “amygdalin” that is used as a defense mechanism in the seeds. When the apple seeds are chewed up and metabolized, this substance converts to hydrogen cyanide, a potentially toxic substance to both horses and humans. With a high enough concentration, this can easily lead to illness and even death. However, for a human, you’d need to eat 300 or more apple seeds for a lethal dose, and this will be exponentially more for a horse. A few seeds in your horse’s daily apple treat should not be a concern!

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Credit: pirita, Shutterstock

Are fruits bad for horses?

Fruits are a great occasional treat for horses, but too much can be harmful. Moderation is best with any type of fruit, and the same goes for quality and freshness. Only feed fresh, rinsed fruit to your horse, and buy pesticide-free varieties wherever possible. You should be especially cautious if you have a fruit tree nearby that your horse has access to, as they may pick up rotting fruit off the floor or eat far more than they should. It’s best to try and keep them separated from any fruit trees while in season.

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Final thoughts

Apples are a perfectly safe and healthy treat to feed your horse, and most horses love them! That said, moderation is key, as too much of a good thing can quickly turn bad and cause colic and other gastric problems. One or two apples every few days, preferably cut up into smaller pieces, is perfectly safe for your horse.

Related Read: Can Horses Eat Strawberries? What You Need to Know!


Featured image credit: pixel2013, Pixabay

Oliver Jones

Oliver (Ollie) Jones - A zoologist and freelance writer living in South Australia with his partner Alex, their dog Pepper, and their cat Steve (who declined to be pictured). Ollie, originally from the USA, holds his master's degree in wildlife biology and moved to Australia to pursue his career and passion but has found a new love for working online and writing about animals of all types.