Can Horses Eat Cheese? Dietary Facts Revealed.

Have you ever wondered if horses can eat cheese? You might think it’s a yummy treat for them, but the simple answer is no, horses can’t have cheese. Their equine diet does not include dairy products, and for a good reason. Horses are lactose intolerant, so they have a hard time digesting cheese and other dairy foods. Feeding your horse cheese could cause them stomach problems and even make them very sick. To keep your horse healthy and happy, it’s essential to understand their dietary needs and know what foods you should avoid.

Key Takeaways

  • Horses are lactose intolerant and can’t eat cheese.
  • Dairy products are not part of a horse’s natural diet.
  • Feeding cheese to a horse can cause stomach problems and illness.
  • Understanding your horse’s dietary needs is essential for its health.
  • Be cautious about the treats you give to your horse to avoid any problems.

Understanding the Basics: What Makes a Horse’s Diet

When it comes to horse nutrition, there are some essential elements and crucial elements to avoid in maintaining their health. Let’s explore the foundations of a horse’s diet and what foods they should not consume.

The Essentials of a Horse’s Diet

Horses mostly eat hay and fresh grass to get their essential nutrients needed for good health. In addition to these staples, it’s sometimes nice to give your horse equine treats to mix things up. It’s always a good idea to talk to your vet about integrating supplements like YuMOVE Horse joint supplements

Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Horse

Though treats can be enjoyable for your horse, there are certain foods that should never make it to their menu. Dairy products like cheese and milk are non-starters due to their lactose, which horses are unable to process. Additionally, bread, meat, and chocolate can cause serious health issues for horses and should be kept away from their diets.

Avoid feeding your horse plants such as garlic, leeks, onions, and tomatoes, as they can be toxic foods for horses, leading to critical health problems. Also, it’s best to skip out on items like bran and cut grass, as well as garden clippings that can upset the delicate balance of their stomachs.

The Truth About Horses and Dairy Products

While cheese and other dairy products may be a delicious snack for humans, it’s not the case for horses. Their unique digestive system makes them unable to properly handle milk, cheese, and other lactose-filled items. Let’s take a closer look at why dairy is bad for horses and what could happen if they consume it.

Why is Dairy Bad for Horses?

Horses have a digestive system that is specifically designed to slowly break down and process plant-based foods like grass and hay. Dairy products like milk and cheese contain lactose, which is difficult for horses to digest due to lactose intolerance. Because of their intolerance, it’s important to avoid feeding horses any kind of dairy, as it can cause gastrointestinal discomfort and other complications.

horse digestive system

What Happens if a Horse Consumes Dairy?

If a horse consumes dairy products like cheese, they might experience symptoms of lactose intolerance, such as stomach pain, bloating, and diarrhea. In some cases, horses can develop equine colic, which can be a life-threatening condition if not treated immediately. Every horse is different, and some may experience severe reactions even from a small amount of dairy.

Feeding horses vegan cheese is also not recommended, as it often contains high amounts of salt and other ingredients that could be harmful to their health. Instead, it’s essential to provide horses with a diet that caters to their unique nutritional needs and supports their overall health and well-being.

Can Horses Eat Cheese?

If you’re wondering whether it’s safe for horses to consume dairy products like cheese, the answer is no. Cheese intolerance in horses is quite common since these animals are lactose intolerant equines. As a result, feeding cheese to your horse would likely result in a painful bellyache or other gastrointestinal issues.

Cheese intolerance in horses

It’s crucial to stick to a safe and healthy diet designed specifically for horses, which excludes dairy products like cheese. Instead, provide them with a variety of nutritious foods that are appropriate for their digestive systems to keep them healthy and happy.

Remember: just as it’s unsafe for humans who are lactose intolerant to consume dairy, it’s also dangerous for horses. To maintain your horse’s well-being, it’s best to avoid cheese and other dairy foods altogether.

The Specifics of Cheese and Equine Digestion

When it comes to horse lactose intolerance, even horses of any age have trouble digesting dairy products like cheese. The lactose found in these products causes various gastrointestinal discomfort, making it crucial to keep these foods off your horse’s menu.

Some common symptoms of lactose intolerance in horses include:

  • Stomach pains
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

While younger horses might handle dairy a bit more effectively, it’s still best to avoid giving them cheese. Instead, continue providing them with lactose-free alternatives that cater to their natural dietary preferences.

Remember, always prioritize your horse’s health and well-being by offering a balanced diet specially designed for equines.

Alternative Treats You Can Safely Offer Your Horse

While cheese and dairy products should be avoided, there are plenty of safe treats for horses you can offer. The key is to choose equine-friendly snacks that not only taste good but are also healthy for your horse. Let’s explore some great horse snack options that will keep your horse happy and satisfied without causing any harm.

Fruits and Vegetables Fit for a Horse

Horses love treats, and you can give them fruits like apples, oranges, and bananas. Just make sure to remove any seeds or pits first. Carrots and celery are also nice veggie snacks for them too. Remember, treats should be just a small part of their diet to ensure they’re getting a balanced and healthy meal plan.

Safe Processed Foods and Natural Options

For a different type of treat, consider giving your horse a few sunflower seeds or a peppermint candy. But remember, it’s best to keep treats healthy and natural for them. There are lots of tasty fruits and veggies that make safe treats for your horse buddy. Keep their overall health in mind when choosing snacks, and you’ll both enjoy the special bonding moments treat-time brings.

Recognizing Ideal Snacks for Young and Adult Horses

When it comes to keeping your horse happy and healthy, it is essential to understand their individual dietary needs and preferences. Knowing the difference in digestibility between young and adult horses will help you choose the most suitable treats for them. Remember, a balanced diet is key to maintaining optimum equine health and nutrition.

Digestibility Differences Between Young and Adult Horses

Although younger horses can digest lactose slightly better than older ones, it is still not recommended to feed them cheese or any other dairy products. Even though they might be more tolerant to lactose compared to their adult counterparts, they usually prefer sweeter treats and may not enjoy cheese. Instead, opt for safe, dairy-free alternatives that won’t upset their stomachs.

Healthy Snacking: Keeping Equine Diets Balanced

Regardless of age, horses should maintain a well-rounded diet tailored to their specific needs. This includes a combination of hay, grass, and just a few special treats like certain fruits and vegetables. The following table provides some examples of healthy, easily digestible treats for horses:

Fruits Vegetables
Apples (seedless) Carrots
Oranges (peeled, no seeds) Celery
Bananas (peeled) Cucumbers

By providing your horse with a young horse diet or an adult horse lactose intolerance friendly menu, you can ensure you are keeping their diet balanced and free of items like cheese, which could result in gastrointestinal discomfort. Always prioritize their natural food preferences and consult with a veterinarian if you are unsure about adding any new treats to their diet.


As horse owners and lovers, it’s essential to remember that horses need a special diet fit just for them. They can’t eat cheese because their stomachs can’t handle it. By understanding the dietary needs of these magnificent animals and providing them with the proper nutrition, you’ll ensure their health and happiness.

Equine diet tips include sticking to your horse’s regular food, such as hay and fresh grass, and offering them safe treats like certain fruits and vegetables. By steering clear of milk, cheese, and all dairy products, you’ll avoid any tummy troubles that could stem from a lactose intolerant equine.

In conclusion, healthy horse feeding is all about knowing what foods to offer and which ones to avoid. Be diligent in providing a balanced diet, ensuring your beloved horse stays strong and healthy throughout its life. Ultimately, your horse’s well-being should always be your top priority.


Can horses eat cheese and other dairy products?

No, horses cannot eat cheese or other dairy products due to their lactose intolerance. Dairy is not a natural part of a horse’s diet, and consuming it can lead to gastrointestinal discomfort or other health issues.

What are the essential components of a horse’s diet?

Horses typically eat hay and fresh grass, which provide necessary nutrients for their overall health. They may also enjoy a few treats, such as fruits and vegetables, as long as they do not contain any harmful ingredients.

What types of foods should be avoided when feeding a horse?

Foods like bread, meat, and chocolate should not be given to horses due to their potential to cause serious health problems. Also, avoid plants like garlic, leeks, onions, and tomatoes, as well as bran, cut grass, and garden clippings.

Why is dairy harmful to horses?

Dairy products, including cheese, contain lactose, which horses cannot digest properly. Lactose intolerance makes horses prone to gastrointestinal issues like stomach pains, bloating, gas, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Are there any differences in digestion between young and adult horses?

Although younger horses may digest lactose better than older ones, they should still avoid consuming dairy products as their digestive systems are not equipped to handle lactose.

What are some suitable and safe treat options for horses?

Safe treats for horses include fruits like apples, oranges, and bananas (with seeds and pits removed), as well as vegetables such as carrots and celery. A few sunflower seeds or peppermints can also be offered as occasional treats.

How do I maintain a balanced diet for my horse?

To maintain a balanced diet for your horse, ensure that they consume plenty of hay, grass, and any required supplements. Treats like fruits, vegetables, and other horse-friendly snacks should only make up a small portion of their diet to keep them healthy and happy.

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