Can Horses Eat Celery? Benefits & Risks
Yes, horses can eat celery! You can offer your horse celery stalks and leaves as a healthy snack to increase their nutrient intake but also as a reward for good behavior. Horses can derive a lot of benefits from celery but there are a few things to keep in mind when offering celery as treat.
Below, I will discuss the benefits and risks of feeding your horse celery, so you can make the best decision for your horse.
Benefits of Horses Eating Celery
The fibrous stalk of the celery makes for a crunchy and refreshing treat that you can offer your horse in any season.
Here are the most important benefits of celery for your horse:
– High nutritional value
Celeries are packed with vitamins and minerals. The most important vitamins in celery include vitamins A, K, and C.
As for the minerals that make celery a healthy snack, magnesium and phosphorus are the most notable ones.
– High in fiber
The celery stalk is also rich in fiber, which can increase the fiber intake of your horse. Soluble fiber can help your horse’s digestive system.
– Rich in antioxidants
Antioxidants are another great benefit of celery. They have the role of fighting free radicals in the body and preventing the growth of cancerous tumors.
– High water content
Celeries also have a high water content, increasing hydration, especially during the hot summer months.
– Low-calorie treat
Celery is also low in calories and low in sugar, therefore, your horse can eat it without the fear of putting on weight.
As you can see, celery has plenty of benefits, being an all-round healthy snack for your horse. That being said, there are a few risks of feeding celery to your horse that you should not overlook.
Risks of Horses Eating Celery
The risks associated with horses eating celery are usually related to how it’s prepared for your horse, whether the celery is fresh or not, or whether your horse has any pre-existing conditions.
Here are the risks to watch out for when feeding your horse celery stalks or leaves:
- Risk of choking on the celery stalks if they’re not cut into smaller pieces
- Risk of digestive issues if the celery is contaminated with microbes or viruses, or if the celery is rotten or moldy.
- Due to the potassium content in celery, you should never feed it to horses with Hyperkalemic periodic paralysis (HYPP) disease, which is made worse by the consumption of foods high in potassium.
- Overconsumption of celery can cause colic and other gastrointestinal upset and even nutritional deficiencies if your horse skips eating its regular food because it chooses to indulge in treats.
With these in mind, here’s how to feed celery to your horse:
- Buy fresh, organic celery that’s pesticide-free and shows no signs of rotting or mold.
- Wash the celery stalks and leaves carefully to remove any dirt, microbes, parasites, or viruses that could make your horse sick.
- Cut the celery stalks into small, bite-sized chunks.
- Feed only a couple of pieces at a time, bearing in mind that too much of it can lead to gastrointestinal upset. Even if your horse keeps asking for another bite, make sure you never overfeed it.
- If your horse doesn’t like the taste or celery, don’t force it to eat it. Not all horses will like the same fruits and vegetables.
Is Any Part of Celery Toxic to Horses?
Both the stalks and the leaves of the celery are safe for horses to consume. To my knowledge, no part of the celery is toxic to horses.
But as I mentioned, you need to watch out for the potential risk of choking if the celery isn’t cut into manageable, bite-sized pieces.
Then there is the issue of the celery being contaminated with microbes, parasites, viruses, and even residual pesticides, all of which can harm your horse.
Therefore, make sure you thoroughly wash the stalk and leaves before feeding them to your horse.
Keep celery and other treats high in potassium away from horses suffering from Hyperkalemic periodic paralysis (HYPP). Their condition can be made much worse when consuming high-potassium foods such as celery.
Eating too much celery at any one time or skipping regular meals because your horse fills up on celery can not only cause gastrointestinal issues, but it can also lead to nutritional deficiencies.
As the owner of a horse, it is your duty to ration celery and other treats so that your horse doesn’t overfeed on them.
Can a Horse Eat Too Much Celery?
Yes, a horse can eat too much celery. Because fruits and vegetables should be offered to horses only as an occasional treat, if your horse fills up on celery it can experience gastrointestinal issues, including colic.
Therefore, offer only a few bite-sized pieces of celery to your horse at a time. To make the celery even more palatable, you can dip it in a bit of peanut butter as well. Make sure to get the sugar-free peanut butter variety.
Can a Foal Eat Celery Leaves?
Depending on the age of the foal, celery may not be the best choice for them. For starters, foals that are still nursing should not be given any extra treats because the microbiome in their gastrointestinal system has yet to develop to ferment roughage and other feed.
Secondly, foals may be even more sensitive to potentially contaminated celery leaves such as those that have bacteria, residual insecticides, parasites, or viruses on them.
Another reason why it’s discouraged to offer treats to foals is because they tend to become pushy or nippy, and that’s something you should not encourage.
Celery is a healthy, low-calorie treat that you can occasionally offer to your horse, bearing in mind my recommendations on how to feed celery to your horse.
Moderation is essential to prevent nutritional issues and potential gastrointestinal problems including colic.
Thoroughly wash the celery to prevent disease-transmission and slice celery into smaller pieces to prevent choking.
With these in mind, you can introduce celery as a healthy snack into your horse’s diet.