Most horses enjoy eating occasional treats, but finding a healthy choice that they love can be challenging. Some fruits and vegetables that we love can also be healthy treat alternatives for horses. You may not have thought of it, but watermelon could be a treat option for your horse.
Horses can eat watermelon and there is a good chance that your horse will absolutely love it! Most horses and ponies can eat watermelon without any issues at all. There are, unfortunately, a few instances where watermelon may not be the best treat for some horses.
Watermelon is tasty fruit that can be safely fed as a treat to most of our equine friends in limited quantities. Some horses, because of dietary issues or dental problems, may not be able to eat watermelon at all.
To decide whether watermelon is the right treat for your horse, let’s talk about the facts about this delicious fruit and how it fits into the equine diet.
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Is Watermelon Healthy For Horses To Eat?
Watermelon not only tastes good, it is also a very healthy treat for the majority of horses. Water, as we all know, is a necessity for horses and it just so happens that watermelon is made up of almost 92 percent water!
This means that watermelon is especially healthy for horses that could stand to have a little more water in their diets.
Watermelon is also low in sodium and high in vitamin A, vitamin C and potassium. Watermelons contain fiber, which is an essential part of a horse’s diet. Fiber helps a horse’s digestive system function more efficiently. All in all, watermelon is really very healthy for most horses. (source)
Moderation Is The Key
All horse treats should be fed in moderation to make sure that they do not cause any digestive problems for your horse. You should limit the amount of treats your horse gets each day and make sure that your horse continues to eat their regular food.
It is essential for horses to eat a balanced meal each day. Overfeeding treats can cause horses not to finish their usual meals, especially essential forage like hay and grass.
This can lead to digestive problems including colic, a potentially fatal gastric upset in horses that is difficult and costly to treat. Stick with just a few small pieces of watermelon each day and your horse should be fine.
Can Horses Have Watermelon Rind?
Horses can eat the rind of a watermelon! It may be hard to believe, but some horses prefer it over the fleshy part of the watermelon!
The watermelon rind contains a higher concentration of potassium and fiber than the inside of the watermelon contains, which makes it a little healthier for horses.
The rind is crunchier than the rest of the fruit, so when possible, cut it up into small pieces for horses to avoid causing choking. (source)
Wash The Rind First
If you decide to feed your horse watermelon rind, you should be sure to wash it first. This will help get rid of any pesticides or other toxic substances that are on it.
The easiest and most safe way to wash fruits is to use a saltwater mixture to rinse off any pesticides or toxicants. (source)
Can Horses Eat Watermelon Seeds?
Watermelon pieces that contain seeds are okay for horses to eat, as long as it is fed in moderation. Feeding limited amounts of watermelon to your horse will help keep the amount of seeds your horse consumes low.
You should never feed your horse watermelon seeds by themselves. Some horse owners may prefer to feed watermelon treats without the seeds and that is okay as well. Many horse owners feed watermelons with seeds and their horses do not typically have any issues.
Watch Your Horse For Any Adverse Reactions
Whenever you add any new foods, or treats, to your horse’s diet, you should monitor them for the first few days so that you can identify any side effects they may have.
While watermelon is healthy for most horses, it is always safe to keep an eye on them when they first try it. If you notice any remarkable changes, consult your vet for assistance as soon as possible.
Can Dental Issues Pose A Problem?
In certain situations, watermelon treats can be dangerous for horses, such as if they suffer from dental problems. Horses that are unable to chew their food properly may not be able to effectively chew a piece of watermelon, especially if it has any rind on it.
To prevent choking hazards, you should cut up the watermelon into small pieces that are easy for horses to swallow. You should avoid feeding watermelon rind to any horses with dental issues due to their limited chewing abilities.
What Horses That Should Not Eat Watermelon?
Horses that suffer from hyperkalemic periodic paralysis (HYPP) should steer clear from eating watermelon treats of any kind.
HYPP causes horses to suffer severely debilitating episodes when they eat foods that contain potassium. Watermelon contains a moderate amount of potassium, so you should never feed it to any horse that suffers from HYPP.
Horses that suffer from insulin resistance should also not eat watermelon because it contains sugar. Unfortunately, 2 cups of diced watermelon contain 20 grams of sugar, so it is not safe for these horses to eat.
Can Senior Horses Eat Watermelon?
Healthy senior horses that have excellent teeth and do not suffer from any metabolic disorders or HYPP can safely eat watermelon treats in moderation.
As with any new foods, just keep an eye on your senior horse after its first few watermelon treats and make sure that it does not have any adverse reactions.
As long as they are healthy and have good teeth, senior horses should be able to eat small amounts of watermelon safely.
Can I Feed My Horse Watermelon Flavored Foods?
You should never feed your horse any processed foods that are intended for humans. Processed foods are most often unhealthy for humans and they are extremely unhealthy for horses.
A horse’s digestive system is fickle and is not designed to handle processed food that is intended for human consumption.
Stick with only the fresh watermelon fruit and avoid feeding your horse any man-made watermelon treats.
Watermelon Treat Ideas
The easiest method is to simply chop up small chunks of watermelon and feed it in moderation to your horse.
Most horses like the flesh part of a watermelon, but some horses enjoy the rind even more. You can serve these treats to your horse chilled or at room temperature.
Bran Mash With Watermelon
Many horse owners mix up their own bran mash for their horses. If you do this, you can add small pieces of watermelon to your mixture as a tasty surprise for your horses.
You can prepare frozen watermelon in a couple of different ways. Keep in mind that you should always remove the rind when freezing watermelon because it will very hard for them to chew when frozen.
Chopped Watermelon Horse Treats
You can chop up small pieces of the inside fleshy part of the watermelon and freeze those to feed your horse as a crunchy treat. Make sure the pieces are small enough to prevent choking if they are swallowed whole by accident.
Frozen Horse Treat Blocks
You can also make frozen treat blocks for your horse by putting water in a bucket or container and then adding small pieces of watermelon and other fruits in it before you freeze it. The horse can lick the frozen concoction and eat the treats as it unfreezes.
This makes for a fun, long-lasting treat for horses during the warmer months, but remember it is not a substitute for freshwater!
Things to Remember
1. Moderation, Moderation, Moderation.
All treats, including watermelon, should be fed in moderation to avoid digestive problems.
2. Small Pieces Are Safest.
Be sure to only feed small pieces of watermelon to your horse to prevent choking, especially if your horse is a fast eater or is unable to chew adequately.
3. Wash The Rind
If your horse enjoys the rind, rinse it off with salt water to remove any toxicants. The outer layer of all fruit encounters a lot of chemicals throughout its journey to your farm so you should always rinse it off before feeding to any animal.
4. Do Not Feed To Horses With HYPP Or insulin resistance.
You should never feed watermelon treats to horses with HYPP or horses that are unable to eat sugar-filled substances.
If your horse likes treats, there is a chance it might love watermelon! It is a safe fruit for most horses to eat and many of them thoroughly enjoy eating watermelon.
Not only is it safe, it is also healthy for horses, so you don’t feel guilty when feeding it to them. It makes for a truly win-win situation for you and you horse!