Carrots – Are they safe for my horse?

We have all feed carrots to our horse, as a treat, reward, training tool or as an extra sprinkle to their feed- but have you ever stopped to think if carrots are good for your horse and are there actually any benefits from feeding them? 


What is actually in a carrot? 

Carrots are the perfect yummy treat. They are easy to pack, relatively cheap and whose horse doesn’t love carrots! After all they are nice, sweet and crunchy, but do they hold any nutritional value?  The answer is yes.  

  • Rich in vitamins and minerals; high in Vitamin A and Vitamin C 
  • 85-90% water 
  • Good source of fibre 
  • Low in carbohydrates (but they do contain some low levels of sugar). 
  • Low in energy 
  • High in potassium 


How many carrots can I feed? 

As with all treats, it is recommended to feed carrots in moderation. No matter what look your horse gives you, live by the saying less is more! An average of 1-2 for ponies and 2-3 for large horses of carrots per day is best practice. Any more may affect the balanced nutritional ration you already have your horse on and, as with children, they will fill up on the treat and not eat their normal feed.  

Carrots are safe for horses that may suffer from metabolic issues or laminitis but again moderation is extremely important, and we would advise checking with your veterinarian to make sure what you are doing is safe for your horse. An strict instance however where carrots shouldn’t be fed are with horses suffering from Hyperkalemic periodic paralysis (HYPP), due to the high potassium content. 


How do should I feed carrots? 

How we feed carrots to horses is another question that often gest asked and there are several safe ways to do that 

  • Cutting into small pieces which works well for horses that might gulp their food and not chew properly, therefore avoiding your horse suffering from choke. 
  • Keeping the carrot whole but allowing your horse to take small bites from the carrot whilst holding it. 
  • Grating the carrot to add to your horse’s feed. This is particularly good for older horses with poor teeth or horses with dental issues.  
  • Adding into treats such as homemade iceblocks for summer days.  


What about the green tops? 

There is some opinion that that the green tops of the carrots aren’t safe to feed to horses, but they are not toxic to horses and are perfectly safe to give, as are carrots of different colours, they contain the same nutritional value as plain orange carrots. 


Should I wash the carrots first? 

It is advisable if not using carrots that were marketed for human consumption to give them a good wash before feeding just to be sure they are free from any chemical or pesticide residue. 

Carrots are a wonderful treat for your horse, and when given in moderation are a good addition to a horse’s diet.  


Written by Selena P.  


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