Can I Feed My Horse Peanut Butter?
Most of us know that dogs love peanut butter, and the ingredient can be found in many pet treat recipes. But dogs are not our only 4-legged companions who love peanut butter – horses also love it as a treat! But is peanut butter safe for horses to eat?
Can horses eat peanut butter? Unless your horse has underlying health conditions, peanut butter is a safe treat to offer in moderation. In fact, peanut butter is not all empty calories – it has some nutritional benefits that can actually make it a healthy treat for horses if given sparingly. It can also be used to coat and disguise medications when it comes to treating your horse for illnesses or pain.
While horses can safely eat peanut butter, it’s important to know what type of peanut butter your should feed your horse and in what moderation. Read on to learn more!
What Kind Of Peanut Butter Should You Feed Your Horse?
Before you offer peanut butter to your horse, you will need to determine what kind of peanut butter you will purchase.
Natural or Traditional Peanut Butter?
Years ago, most of the peanut butter found on the grocery store shelves was packed with added sugar and other additives. In recent years, however, natural peanut butter has made a big comeback, with most brands now offering different versions of “natural peanut butter” – usually with peanuts as the sole ingredient. When selecting peanut butter for your horse, less is more when it comes to ingredients. Opt for the products that only contain peanuts in the list of ingredients.
Did you grow up eating Goober, the jars of peanut butter mixed with jelly? You will not want to give your horse anything that is pre-mixed with peanut butter. Most likely it will have plenty of added sugar that is not good for your horse, and possibly other additives as well.
Organic or Conventional Peanut Butter?
Most healthy horses can tolerate both organic and conventional peanut butter, provided it is natural and without extra additives in the ingredients. If you have a particularly sensitive horse, you might consider purchasing organic peanut butter. Horses have delicate digestive systems and “organic” simply means the ingredients in the product are free from pesticides and other artificial additives.
Smooth or Crunchy Peanut Butter?
This will all come down to preference – crunchy peanut butter is just as safe as smooth peanut butter. While the nutritional value is almost identical, crunchy peanut butter is known to have slightly more fiber and folate, while the smooth variety tends to have slightly more Vitamin E and protein.
How Much Peanut Butter Can You Give Your Horse?
We often hear that treats can be given in moderation. But what does “moderation” mean when it comes to peanut butter? Most veterinarians agree that up to 2 tablespoons of peanut butter can safely be given to your horse each week. If you are offering your horse peanut butter for the first time, you will want to give your horse less than the full 2 tablespoons, to ensure that she does not have any adverse reactions. Horses can be allergic to peanuts just like humans. After you have determined that your horse can safely eat peanut butter, keep it to 2 tablespoons or less per week.
Which Horses Should NOT Eat Peanut Butter
While most horses can tolerate (and even benefit from) a small amount of peanut butter as a treat, there are some horses who should not be given any peanut butter products.
Did you know horses can’t throw up? To learn more, visit my article Can Horses Throw Up? What You Need to Know.
Overweight Horses Should Not Eat Peanut Butter
Part of what makes peanut butter so delicious is all of the good fat and natural sugars that are in it. This is also why you should avoid it when you have an overweight horse. While obesity is never healthy, it is especially unhealthy for horses, as it can place great strain on the horse’s delicate bones and joints. Excessive sugar can also inflame the laminae (tissue) in your horse’s hooves, causing laminitis. If your horse is overweight, you are likely monitoring his diet in order to bring him back to a healthy weight. You will want to limit treats entirely, and when you do offer the occasional treat, it should be healthy and low-calorie.
Foals Should Not Eat Peanut Butter
Foals are horses under the age of 1. Because they are still growing, foals have digestive systems that are even more sensitive than adult horses, and should not be fed peanut butter. When you have a foal, it is best to stick to the horse’s regular, natural diet to ensure proper growth and good health.
Horses With Metabolic Issues Should Not Eat Peanut Butter
Some horses can suffer from metabolic conditions that make them insulin resistant. If your horse suffers from a metabolic condition, you will want to avoid peanut butter as the sugar spike can harm your horse. As mentioned above, excessive sugar can cause the tissue in the horse’s hooves to become inflamed. If this condition is allowed to progress, it can lead to the tissues becoming so weak that they are unable to support the hoof. This is known as founder, which can be fatal. If you have a horse with metabolic issues, it is imperative that you monitor its diet and take the necessary steps to keep them healthy.
Be Careful Feeding Peanut Butter To Horses With Allergies
Horses can have food allergies, just like humans and other pets. While most horses can consume peanut butter without issues, it is possible for a horse to have an allergy to peanuts. For this reason, you will want to watch your horse carefully when giving peanut butter for the first time. Watch for any symptoms of allergies, including skin rashes, itchiness, swelling, diarrhea, and hair loss.
Health Benefits of Peanut Butter
While we know peanut butter has loads of fat and natural sugar, what are some of the health benefits that can accompany peanut butter?
Peanut Butter Is Rich In Protein
One of the benefits of eating peanut butter is the amount of protein it has. 100 grams of peanut butter has about 25 grams of protein. Protein is necessary not only for proper growth and tissue repair, but also for strengthening the immune system, regulating metabolic functions, and helping to maintain a proper pH balance.
Peanut Butter Is Rich In Zinc
Zinc is another nutrient that is vital to a healthy immune system. Zinc is also important for proper bone development and is an excellent mineral for your horse’s hooves and skin health.
Peanut Butter Is Rich In Magnesium
Peanut butter is high in magnesium, and magnesium is an important component of mental health, in horses as well as humans! Magnesium deficiency can lead to anxiety, nervousness, and excitability – unwelcome traits in a horse, particularly a riding horse. Magnesium is also important to nerve and muscle function.
Peanut Butter Is Rich In B Vitamins
Peanut butter has ample amounts of both B3 and B6. B3, also known as Niacin, helps maintain a healthy nervous system. B6, also known as Pyridoxine, has a range of health benefits including aiding in digestive health, hormone production, joint and muscle development, and hemoglobin production.
Peanut Butter Is Rich In Phosphorus
Phosphorus is another nutrient that can be found in peanut butter, which helps to repair damaged cells and tissues.
Can Horses Eat Peanuts?
Horses enjoy peanuts as a treat, just like peanut butter! Again, these should be fed in moderation, as the same health concerns surrounding peanut butter will apply to peanuts themselves. Always make sure that you shell the peanuts before offering them to your horse – the shells offer no nutritional value, and can present a choking hazard.
Want to know more about what you should and shouldn’t feed your horse? Visit my article The Ultimate Guide to What Horses Can (And Can’t) Eat.
Can Horses Be Given Peanut Butter Products?
Though peanut butter is safe to give horses in moderation, what about products that have peanut butter in them? You will want to use great caution when considering giving your horse a processed food product that contains peanut butter. Most products that contain peanut butter are high-sugar foods – including cookies, cracker sandwiches, breakfast cereals, and granola bars. It is not a good idea to give your horse these types of food, as they will likely come with high amounts of added sugar, carbohydrates, and various other additives.
Peanut Butter Sandwiches
PB&J is one of the easiest grab-and-go lunches when you are heading out to the barn. Is a peanut butter sandwich safe to share with your horse if it contains less than the recommended limit of 2 tablespoons of peanut butter? Unfortunately, it is best to keep the sandwich for yourself. While your horse would love a bit of your lunch, bread is not good for horses and can cause digestive upset, including colic. It also has a lot of sugar and carbohydrates and provides no dietary benefit to your horse.
This goes for any sandwich – peanut butter sandwich, peanut butter and jelly, peanut butter and bananas, the possibilities are endless. Your horse should never eat a sandwich.
How To Give Your Horse Peanut Butter
While you can certainly offer your horse a spoonful of peanut butter to lick, there are other options when it comes to giving your horse peanut butter. Horses love both apples and celery, and both are delicious (most of us have had each as a snack at some point!) when combined with peanut butter. You can spoon some peanut butter onto a bite-sized stalk of celery or apple segment and offer it to your horse. He will certainly thank you for it!
Giving Peanut Butter To Your Horse
While peanut butter is not the healthiest treat you can give your horse, it is safe in moderation for most horses. And you will have a very happy horse if you decide to treat them with the occasional scoop of peanut butter.
Did you know that giving your horse peanut butter to lick off of a toy or even the wall can help reduce anxiety or stress in your horse? To learn more about how to prevent anxiety in your horse, visit my article Signs a Horse is Anxious, Nervous, or Stressed.