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Can Horses Eat Bananas? What You Need To Know!

Oliver Jones

August 2, 2021

Horses are known to eat anything you give them, and bananas are not an exception. While some fussy ones will turn their noses up when given anything unfamiliar to them, others will consume almost everything! But does this mean that they should be consuming bananas? The answer is yes, and there are a lot of benefits bananas offer.

When given as part of a well-balanced diet, bananas can be essential for boosting your horse’s health. Let’s look at why giving your horse bananas is a good feeding habit. We are also going to provide you with all the relevant information about feeding horses with bananas.

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What Nutrients Do Bananas Have?

Bananas taste delicious and have a lot of essential nutrients like potassium, vitamins, and minerals vital for body processes like boosting the horse’s immunity. Here is a breakdown of the nutrients your horse gets from bananas:

  • Potassium – helps muscle contraction and nerve impulse transmission; it also keeps your horse’s heart healthy.
  • Vitamin B6- convert carbohydrates and lipids into energy.
  • Vitamin C- boosts the horse’s immune system and helps repair damaged cells and tissues.

Bananas are also a source of energy; thus, it is very common to find competitive riders feeding their horses with bananas before competitions. When given in a well-moderated diet, bananas aid in digestion and treat minor gastrointestinal conditions.

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Image Credit: Elya Vatel, Shutterstock

What Quantity of Bananas Should Horses Feed On?

There is no agreement on the number of bananas your horse is supposed to eat, but many nutritionists recommend moderation, and thus they have recommended no more than two a week. Bananas have a lot of sugar; therefore, your horse can become susceptible to dental issues when given in excess. The sugar in bananas gives horses a lot of energy; thus, many bananas might not be suitable, especially when your horse doesn’t have a way to use the energy.

Bananas also have starch and pectins, which also present some challenges when given in excess. Excessive pectins predispose your horse to constipation by drawing water from the intestines. On the other hand, excessive starch may be hard to digest. Before introducing your horse to bananas (or any other new food), you must first consult your vet.

What Kind of Bananas Can Horses eat?

It would be best if you fed your horse with only fresh bananas. Even though horses can eat dried banana chips, their small size and solid nature make them a choking hazard, so they should be avoided. Furthermore, drying removes a lot of nutrients while also increasing the sugar content, all of which can have undesirable effects on your horse.

Horses can also consume banana peels. Even though they may not be as tasty as the banana, it doesn’t mean horses can’t or should not eat them. Just like human beings, horses also do taste whatever they eat, but so long as you clean the peels well, there is no reason why your horse can’t eat them.  Like the rest of the banana, peels also have potassium, vitamins, and minerals that are good for your horse.

Can All Horses Eat Bananas?

Although most horses are okay with eating bananas, there are circumstances where you have to be careful what you feed them. For example, for obese horses or those with insulin resistance, you have to control how much sugar they get, and this will automatically mean bananas are a no.

 

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Image Credit: Rita_Kochmarjova, Shutterstock

As part of maintaining optimal health, you have to keep potassium at a low level in horses with hyperkalemic periodic paralysis. Since bananas have a lot of potassium, avoid them at all costs. If you doubt whether your horse will be okay with bananas or not, it will be a good idea to consult your vet, who will also advise you on the correct quantity.

Bananas and Horse Stomach Ulcer?

Since bananas have protective phospholipids, they can protect the mucous membrane in the stomach. This, in turn, helps cushion the horse against ulcers or even helps manage the condition in case the horse is already affected.

Unripe bananas are particularly recommended for treating stomach ulcers, although there is not research back up for this. Unripe bananas also promote cell and tissue repairs in the digestive tract following damages from ulcers.

How to Feed Bananas to Horses

If you’ve never fed them bananas before, ensure you give a little for the first time because they have a very sensitive digestive system whenever there are sudden changes. Introduce bananas slowly to lower the risk of colic.

Although you can feed whole bananas to horses without adverse effects, it is safer to cut them into small chunks or mash them to minimize choking.

Bananas are crucial for older horses and those with dental issues, especially the soft ones. You can mash the bananas to a pulp for these horses but ensure you maintain the standard quantity because mashing doesn’t alter the sugar content.

young-horses-on-the-pasture_Rita_Kochmarjova_shutterstock
Image Credit: Rita_Kochmarjova, Shutterstock

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Conclusion

Bananas have a substantial impact on improving your horse’s health of your horse when given in moderation. However, carefully feed them to minimize choking and other adverse effects like excessive blood sugar and potassium in horses with some health conditions. To be on the safer side, check in with your vet.

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Featured Image: Paulo Vilela, Shutterstock

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.