As a horse owner, you probably enjoy pampering your equine pal by offering special treats, and probably look for new or different treats so you can “spice things up” every once in a while. Have you thought about bread? Can horses eat bread? Since bread is such a staple of many European and North American human diets, it makes sense that people eventually would think about offering bread to horses. But as all responsible horse owners know, it is important to do some research before offering just any new food item to your horse.
Most veterinarians and equine nutrition experts will agree that bread is generally a safe food to offer as a treat to your horse. Bread is obviously a grain product, and is therefore compatible with a horse’s digestive system. Since the grains used in flour for human consumption are closely regulated, you can be sure that you are not feeding your horse any contaminated grains when you offer bread as a treat. Some people will ask: “Can horses eat bread?” because many breads are made with wheat flour. While whole-grain wheat may cause impaction issues in horses, wheat that has been processed into flour and then baked into bread is not an impaction issue.
Bread is generally considered a safe food to offer your horse as a treat, but that does not mean that it is safe for all horses or that you can offer it in any amount at any time you want. If your horse easily develops laminitis, bread is probably not the best choice of treat unless you are only offering a slice or two of high fiber bread as a once-a-week treat. Even if your horse does not have any medical concerns or food intolerances, it is best to offer only moderate amounts of bread as a treat, such as a slice or two a day at the most. You may hear that some horses in Europe routinely have bread added to their feed regimen. Equine nutrition experts recommend that if bread is a part of a horse’s regular diet, it not be more than one or two pounds per day. In any case, breads with poppy seed or any kind of chocolate should always be avoided, as they might cause positive results on a drug screen.
The next time you’re looking for a new or different treat to offer your horse, you can be assured that in moderate amounts, bread is a delicious choice for your equine pal.