Your horses probably look forward to fresh snacks. After all, the average grain and hay can get boring after a while. If you’re training or simply trying to expand your horse’s taste palette, you might wonder can horses eat sweet potatoes?
Yes, horses can absolutely eat sweet potatoes. They are chock-full of delicious nutrition that will benefit all of your adorable equines. And that’s not the only upside to horses eating sweet potatoes, either. But, with anything, moderation is key. Let’s find out why sweet potatoes are such a healthy, fantastic choice for snack time and beyond.
Sweet Potato Nutritional Facts
*Nutritional facts based on 1 cup of sweet potatoes, cubed
Vitamins & Minerals
Sweet Potatoes: Raw vs. Cooked
Both raw and cooked sweet potatoes are fantastic options for your equine friend. Cooked sweet potatoes might be a better option if your horse has softer teeth or other dental problems. Cooking them prevents complications with chewing.
Raw options are better for full nutritional benefits. Your horses reap the rewards without the nutrient breakdown that comes cooking with high temperatures.
Sugar Content: Is it a Problem?
As with any carbs or sugar-filled treat, sweet potatoes are best in moderation. Horses are welcome to enjoy the savory treat but make sure not to overdo it. After all, just like humans, too much of a good thing is a bad thing.
Sweet potatoes are also starchy vegetables, which means they are high in carbs. A little bit goes a long way. Horses benefit from a certain amount of sugar and carbs. Just remember, this is a snack and not part of their daily diet.
But even still, sweet potatoes contain less sugar than popular snacks like carrots.
Extra Perks of Sweet Potato
A nutritionally beneficial snack for horses, sweet potatoes contain beta carotene, which, anecdotally, is a natural treatment for gastric ulcers in horses. Many people in the equine community swear by its healing power.
Gastric ulcers are much more common in racehorses due to their lack of foraging. Most of these horses are in a stable for a significant duration of their time. Because you’re taking away their natural ability to eat lots of nutrient-rich leafy greens in the field, it negatively impacts the stomach’s acidity.
Even though racehorses are the most susceptible, it is also quite common in domesticated horses as a whole. If you find that your horse is suffering from a gastric ulcer, seek advice from your veterinarian before turning to sweet potatoes.
Can Horses Eat Regular Potatoes?
If you’re relieved that your horse can eat sweet potatoes, don’t get too comfortable with the idea. The same sentiment doesn’t extend to all members of the potato family.
Actual white potato is considered part of the nightshade family, highly toxic to horses and many other household pests. That is especially true if the potato is even slightly green. Green potatoes have an extra-concentrated amount of solanine, which can cause serious side effects.
Rather than sweet potatoes being a part of the nightshade family, they are actually a member of the morning glory family, totally different.
Raw potato is much more toxic than cooked potato, but any part is harmful to our equine friends. Even though you let them snack on sweet potatoes, make sure you leave it there and don’t cross any other boundaries.
So, now we’ve learned that horses can absolutely have sweet potatoes as an occasional snack. They are a great training tool with nutritional benefits. They can even be fantastic options for naturally treating gastric ulcers. If you have any questions about sweet potatoes’ safety, you can always consult your veterinarian about your concerns.