A well-fed horse makes a healthy horse, right? That's mostly true, but some of your horse's favorite treats will not always equal an agreeable stomach. Equine care has to include a healthy and balanced diet and that means everything in moderation.
Watermelon is a real treat for horses, but it has to be given in a safe and healthy manner. This means you have to be aware of the health benefits and the potential health dangers when offering your horse this delicious treat.
Here's what you need to know about watermelon for horses. We'll also touch on other aspects of equine care to ensure you're keeping your horse truly healthy.
Watermelon is made up of 92% water, so if you're struggling to keep your horse hydrated, then watermelon could really help.
Not only that, its pink flesh is high in beta-carotene. This converts to vitamin A when consumed which helps with the immune system. Vitamin C is also found within watermelon, and this can help with repairing body tissue.
Only adding to this endless list of vitamins, watermelon contains potassium as well! Potassium is really important for the proper function of cells so that the muscles can move properly.
Perhaps the most important contributor to horse care: watermelon is full of fiber! This helps the horse's digestive system function more efficiently, which is essential for your horse's diet overall.
The rind of the watermelon has a higher concentration of potassium and fiber. Remember to cut it up though to prevent the horse choking, as the rind is a lot crunchier than the inner flesh.
As long as you feed watermelon in moderation then there should be no risk to your horse's health at all. However, horse owners tend to be very concerned about feeding watermelon to horses for the following reasons.
A lot of people worry about the sugar content of watermelon. It's important to remember though, sugar occurs naturally in all plants, and it isn't something to be afraid of. On average, there are 7g (Grams) of sugar per 100g in a watermelon. However, it is not regarded as a high sugar food.
The amount of sugar in pasture grass, a horse's main source of food, can be between 6-20%. Consequently, a horse can consume several pounds of sugar a day. This means that as long as you feed your horse watermelon in measured amounts then you have nothing to worry about.
Some horse owners worry about toxins or pesticides on the rind. The rind may have been sprayed with herbicides or pesticides to prevent any bugs from getting in, or it may carry bacteria such as E.coli. There are no other unknown natural toxins on the rind.
If you are worried about any of these though, you can use salt water to easily and safely rinse off any unknown substances. Alternatively, wash the outside of the watermelon with cool water and a scrub brush before cutting into the melon.
Finally, if you are worried about the seeds in watermelon, then you also have nothing to worry about. There are many toxins in the seeds of fruits, but the proportions are so minuscule that a huge quantity would have to be consumed to cause any issues at all.
The seeds are also tiny, so there will be no choking. If this doesn't reassure you though, there is always the option to buy a seedless watermelon. The key, like any other food, is moderation.
If you are feeding your horse watermelon for the first time, then keep an eye on them for the next few days just to check there are not any unusual side effects. Watermelon is a healthy treat for most horses, but if you notice any unusual behavior or symptoms then contact your vet and seek professional horse care.
Some horses suffer from hyperkalemic periodic paralysis (HYPP). This is a condition that can cause severe muscle spasms and weakness, which can be very debilitating to horses. Eating potassium can trigger an episode and need for professional horse care, so it is best to entirely avoid giving it to horses with this condition.
Additionally, horses who suffer from insulin resistance should also avoid watermelon. Although it is a moderate amount of sugar, it is not a safe amount of sugar for these horses to be eating.
Giving your horse little rewards like watermelon can be an enjoyable way to bond with your horse. In between all the day-to-day equine care, the training, and the long walks, it is something for them to look forward to. Just be aware of any underlying conditions of your horse and give everything in moderation, and you should be fine!
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