Horses love some types of human foods, and you’ve probably wondered if horses can eat cheese too. Because when it comes to their health, it’s essential to know what is and isn’t safe for them to eat.
Can Horses Eat Cheese?
No, horses can’t eat cheese. Horses are lactose intolerant, so cheese, milk, yogurt, ice cream, and all dairy products should be avoided.
Some people’s foods are safer and healthier for horses than others. And cheese is one of those treats that you should never feed your horse.
Why is Cheese Bad For Horses?
Horses can’t eat cheese because this study, which was done on carbohydrate digestion and absorption in horses, found that they are lactose intolerant which means that they are not physically able to digest lactose. Eating cheese or any other dairy products can upset their digestive system, leading to diarrhea, bloating and colic.
In addition, cheese is full of salt and fat, which are bad for the horse’s diet.
What is Lactose
Lactose is a kind of disaccharide, a sugar that is made up of glucose and galactose (two monosaccharide sugars). This sugar is found in most dairy products.
Lactose, in particular, makes up 2-8 % of milk. Remember, anything that ends in “ose” is sugar.
The body needs to break down this sugar into its smaller subunits to digest lactose. We humans do this by an enzyme known as lactase.
Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance in Horses
In horses, it mainly manifests as diarrhea and colic. This, of course, will vary depending on the amount of lactose they have consumed. Some of the symptoms may be more subtle, such as bloating and lethargy.
These symptoms are attributed to the lactose passing through the colon unconverted into its smaller byproducts.
This big molecule causes bacteria to collect and causes the intestine to retain water and electrolytes. This leads to watery stool or overly loose or soft stools, plus overall gastric and intestinal irritation.
Of course, these symptoms can be due to numerous reasons, and if your horse is exhibiting any of these signs, you should call your veterinarian regardless if you think lactose is the culprit or not. He may want to come to pay you a visit or may just give you some guidance on how to treat their symptoms and what to watch for.
Better Treats to Feed Your Horse
Horses cannot eat cheese. However, there are plenty of other healthy treats that you can feed them safely. We all know that horses are fond of apples and carrots, but did you know that they can also safely enjoy a wide range of other fruits and vegetables. Below we’ve put together a list of some treats that horses can and can’t eat.
What Horses Can eat
What Horses can’t eat
Recap: Can Horses Eat Cheese?
In conclusion, horses should not eat cheese at all. Cheese is categorized as a dairy product that contains lactose and some other ingredients, which are highly harmful to our poor little lactose-intolerant fellows. Cheese is even more harmful to adult horses. It can cause severe colic, digestive issues, diarrhea, and in worse cases, death. So try healthier and safer alternatives instead.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Do Horses Eat Cheese?
No, horses do not eat cheese. It is not part of their standard diet and should be avoided even as an occasional treat.
Do Horses Like Cheese?
They will probably find it tasty, but it doesn’t matter. You should never give them the opportunity to try it because even the smallest amount of lactose intake is harmful and can cause them health problems.