Last Updated on March 28, 2023
We all love to treat our horses, but do you wonder if your horse is bored of apples and carrots? Can horses eat bananas and other fruits? Let’s find out!
Can Horses Eat Bananas?
Horses have a sensitive digestive system, and it is essential to check if something you want to feed your horse is safe before trying it. The good news is that bananas and their peels are safe for horses to eat.
However, you should take precautions by getting to know the health of the horse you want to feed a banana to. Certain horses should not eat bananas, as this tasty treat can make some health conditions even worse.
Bananas, like any fruit, have high sugar content. Surprisingly, an apple has a lower glycemic index and sugar level than a banana. The average apple contains 10.4 grams of sugar, compared to 12.2 grams in a banana. So, if your horse requires a low-sugar diet, such as those with or at risk of laminitis, maybe think twice about feeding a banana.
Horses that suffer from Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis (HYPP) should never be fed bananas. These horses must be fed a diet that is low in potassium. Bananas, and their peels, have high levels of potassium, so it is best to avoid this treat altogether for HYPP horses.
Too much potassium can also affect the health of a healthy horse. High levels of potassium can be detrimental to the muscles, leading to aching and stiffness. Potassium can also reduce absorption through the gut wall of other important nutrients, such as calcium.
Do Horses Like Bananas?
When it comes to healthy snacks for horses, bananas are a good choice! Most horses love the taste of bananas, and will happily eat a whole banana with very little encouragement.
If you are feeding bananas to your horse for the first time, you may find that they are initially a bit reluctant to try this fruit. This is because banana is quite unlike any other type of food they will have come across before! The smell, texture, and flavor will seem quite unusual to your horse at first.
But once your horse has tried a piece of banana, you will probably find that they quickly come back for more! Foals and young horses are normally more open to trying new foods, so if you’re giving a banana to an older horse, you may find that you need to tempt them to try it for the first time.
To encourage your horse to eat bananas, first, remove the peel and cut it into bite-size pieces. Do the same with a fruity snack that your horse is familiar with, such as an apple or carrot.
Start by feeding your horse pieces of their favorite fruit from your hand, then give them a piece of this fruit with a piece of banana at the same time. If they eat this happily, next try a piece of banana on its own. An alternative can be to mix in pieces of banana to their evening feed – most horses will enjoy a bit of variety in their diet.
Can Horses Eat Banana Peel?
Many horses enjoy the taste of bananas, and for some, it is their favorite treat. But what about banana peel – is that OK for horses to eat?
Horses can eat the banana peel, and this part of the banana is safe and nutritious for them to eat. However, the peel does have a more bitter taste than the flesh of the fruit, making it less appetizing.
Some horses might love the flesh of a banana but turn their nose up at or spit out the banana peel. Others genuinely can’t wait to devour a banana, peel, and all, like a cookie monster! Just make sure you’ve rinsed the banana skin and removed any stickers before feeding it to your horse.
Check out this cute horse enjoying his banana treat!
It is also a good idea to remove the tough, stalky part of the banana peel, as this could cause choking. One great feature of feeding bananas to horses is their softness. This makes it the perfect treat for an older horse that has dental issues that prevent it from eating food that requires more chewing.
The best way to feed a horse with dental problems a banana is to mush it up before offering it. Remember, doing this will make it look like there is much less, so don’t add more, as the sugar content is still the same.
Bananas can also be very helpful if you need to give your horse medication. It is easy to push tablets into the soft flesh of banana, and powders and liquid medication can be added to a mushed-up banana. The sweet flavor of this fruit is ideal for masking the unpleasant taste of some medications.
Not only can horses eat banana peels, but you can also feed them to a donkey.
While donkeys need careful control of their diet to prevent obesity, it is safe to feed them bananas, peel or not, as an occasional treat. It is best to feed donkeys chopped bananas to prevent any choking.
Bananas and Stomach Ulcers
It is a commonly held belief that bananas have a soothing effect on the stomach. There is little research to prove this, but even some top riders swear by this natural way to help horses with stomach ulcers.
The theory is that protection of the gastric lining comes from the high content of phospholipids found in bananas. While feeding a horse with ulcers bananas won’t cure them, it can provide some relief from the pain they cause. It is also considered an ulcer preventive.
Can Horses Eat Banana Peels and Bananas in Unlimited Quantities
Just like other sugary treats, bananas should be fed in moderation, even to a horse with no health issues. The best practice to follow is to only offer one banana as a treat a couple of times per week. The high sugar levels affect not only insulin levels but also the horse’s energy levels.
Bananas also contain high levels of starch. Too much starch in a horse’s diet can negatively affect digestion. Hence, keeping this treat in moderation is important.
How to feed horse banana peels and their flesh
When introducing any new food to a horse, first give it a tester. Ensure that your horse doesn’t have an allergic reaction or upset digestive system from eating the banana. Once you confirm your horse can safely eat banana peels or their flesh, gradually increase the amount to a full banana over time.
Giving a horse medication is a challenge, and some horses will sniff out something unwanted in their food very quickly. Using some bananas to hide medicine is a great trick for hiding pills or nasty-tasting powders.
What Do Horses Love to Eat?
Just like humans, horses vary widely in their likes and dislikes! One horse may be a greedy feeder who likes to eat everything, while the next one could be extremely fussy and only like certain foods.
One thing that we do know is that horses have a sweet tooth – they love anything with a high sugar content. While too much sugar can be very bad for your horse, feeding fruit that contains naturally occurring sugars, such as bananas and apples, is a nice way to thank your equine buddy for their hard work.
Many horses also love salty foods, which is why they enjoy licking your hands so much – they can taste the salt produced when you sweat!
It is safe to say that horses can eat banana peels if they don’t have any underlying health concerns. However, if your horse doesn’t like the peel, it doesn’t mean it won’t like the soft, sweet banana flesh.
Do you have a horse that loves bananas? Or any questions? If so, let us know in the comments below.
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Michael Dehaan is a passionate horse owner, horse rider, and lover of all things equine. He has been around horses since he was a child, and has grown to become an expert in the field. He has owned and ridden a variety of horses of different breeds, and has trained many to compete in shows and competitions. He is an experienced horseman, having worked with and competed many horses, including his own. He is an active member of the equestrian community, participating in events and teaching riding lessons.