People who own horses are just like any other pet owner. They love their animals and always want to give them the best they can and make their lives as enjoyable as possible. Often, this causes people to offer human foods to their horses. Sometimes, this is as a reward, and other times it’s just for the sake of giving your companion a treat.
Chocolate is a treat that many people love and become infatuated with. If you’re a chocolate lover, you might be hoping that you can indulge your horse and they can share in this delicious treat with you. However, much like for canines, chocolate is poisonous for your horse and should never be fed to them.
Let’s take a closer look at chocolate and the effect it can have on your horses. Several ingredients in chocolate can cause problems for your horse, and we will examine some of those potential problems as well.
Theobromine in Chocolate
You may have heard a rumor that racehorses are fed chocolate to give them an edge. While this isn’t the truth, there is a kernel of truth in it. Theobromine and caffeine, two substances found in chocolate, are both banned substances for racehorses. If a racehorse tests positive for either substance, they’ll be disqualified from the race.
Horses react negatively to theobromine. A small dose may not be detrimental to your horse’s health, but large doses can easily cause sickness. Large enough doses could even be fatal.
Other Problems With Chocolate
Of course, theobromine isn’t the only substance in chocolate that might have negative consequences for your horse. Let’s take a look at three other problems that chocolate can pose for your horse.
Horses already intake quite a bit of sugar through the hay they eat regularly. But too much sugar can cause all sorts of problems for a horse. The most basic issue it can cause is weight gain. An overweight horse won’t be as healthy as one that’s at the proper weight for their size.
But overfeeding sugar can have much more sinister consequences than just weight gain. It can also result in metabolic issues and even colic. Regular overfeeding of sugar can even cause chronic inflammation.
One reason that people try not to overeat chocolate is that it’s calorically dense. A few pieces of chocolate can add a lot of calories to your daily total. This makes it very easy to overeat and gain weight, even if you didn’t eat very much chocolate.
Caffeine is a stimulant. We use it to stay awake and alert, but it can cause jitteriness, anxiety, and stress in your horse, just like it can when we take too much. Your horse won’t know that it’s from the chocolate though, so they’ll likely want to keep eating it for the taste anyway.
Consequences of Feeding Your Horse Chocolate
The most common and obvious problem that’s likely to result from feeding your horse chocolate is an upset stomach. They could have trouble digesting the chocolate and might have diarrhea.
More consequences can occur if you continue feeding chocolate for prolonged periods. Weight gain will follow soon. Your horse could likely get addicted to the sweet taste of chocolate as well. If this happens, they’ll crave chocolate and may stop eating other foods that they actually need in their diet.
In severe cases of overfeeding, you could make your horse very sick.
While a small dose of chocolate is probably not going to immediately harm your horse, it’s still something to avoid. Chocolate is full of calories and sugar that can lead to weight gain and metabolic disorders. Plus, the theobromine in chocolate is bad for your horse and might cause an upset stomach or worse. Prolonged feeding could even result in addiction. So, as a general rule, horses should never be fed chocolate.