Can Horses Eat Cheese?

Can Horses Eat Cheese?

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Horses and Cheese

Horses are beautiful animals, but many people are unaware of their complicated digestive systems and inability to handle all diets. Therefore, just because a food is beneficial for people, it doesn't automatically imply it will be healthy for your horse.

The nutrition of horses has various restrictions, much like that of other animals. With careful consideration, you may significantly enhance your horse's health and reduce the number of trips to the veterinarian.

Cheese is a popular dairy product made from goat, sheep, cow, or buffalo milk. There are many different kinds of cheese, each with a distinct flavour.

Having said that, cheese is dangerous for horses to consume. It is better to avoid cheese and seek other options because even a tiny amount of it may be hazardous to horses. Horses cannot tolerate any quantity of lactose; thus, no matter how much lactose is in the cheese, even a tiny bit might be harmful to them.

Can Horses Eat Cheese?

No, horses cannot consume cheese since they lack the digestive system to handle it. The cheese itself is not toxic, but it contains a substance that makes it dangerous for horses to consume. Even a small amount of cheese can be dangerous.
Cheese, like all dairy products, is rich in lactose. Lactose intolerance prevents horses from eating cheese. Lactase, an enzyme required for the breakdown of lactose, is absent in these species. This implies that eating cheese or other dairy products will cause intestinal distress. This might result in bloating, diarrhoea, and colic.
Regardless of the quantity of lactose a cheese contains, it is still toxic to horses since they are unable to digest or metabolise lactose in any way. Even the smallest, almost perceptible quantity of lactose can be fatal to horses.


Cheese is a dairy food made from the aggregation of milk protein casein. It comes in a broad variety of tastes, textures, and shapes. It is made out of milk's proteins and fat, often from cow, sheep, goat, or buffalo milk.

Several nations create over a thousand different kinds of cheese. Their forms, properties, and tastes vary depending on the source of the milk (along with the nutrition of the animal), the amount of butterfat, the number of bacteria and mould, the preparation, and the amount of time they have been stored.

Cheese is prized for its mobility, lengthy storage stability, and substantial amounts of protein, fat, phosphorus, and calcium.

The Risks of Feeding Cheese to Horses

Lactose intolerance

The inability of an animal's gastrointestinal system to digest lactose, a form of sugar present in milk and other dairy products, is known as lactose intolerance. The enzyme lactase, which is essential for digesting lactose, is absent in these animals.

Horses are grazing, non-ruminant mammals that have spent their entire evolutionary history consuming fodder. They have modified their ancestral habit by eating enough to suit their nutritional needs while feeding on grasses that are comparatively inferior in nutrients and caloric density.

Because horses don't eat dairy products, their digestive systems are not designed to break down lactose. This implies that anything manufactured from milk shouldn't be consumed by horses because they are regarded as lactose intolerant.

A modest amount of cheese may not be harmful if consumed by a horse. However, because each horse is unique, the majority won't be capable of digesting even a small amount of cheese or other dairy products. A horse that consumes a large quantity of cheese may experience digestive issues like colic, diarrhoea, and bloating, all of which could be fatal.

Although a horse can't possibly die from accidentally eating cheese, it is certainly best to prevent these symptoms.

High fat and calorie content

Apart from containing lactose, which makes cheese not suitable for horses, it also contains a high amount of fat, which, when consumed, has the potential of causing excessive weight gain in horses, leading to obesity.

Obesity generally causes a reduced level of activity in a horse due to the body size, which puts more strain on the feet, joints, and limbs. It also predisposes horses to a greater risk of laminitis and low reproductive efficiency. Obesity could also affect their cardiovascular and respiratory health as a result of the increased stress on the heart and lungs.

The Benefits of Feeding Cheese to Horses

Although cheese is said not to be a good option for feed or a snack for horses, it does, however, contain some beneficial nutritional values.

Cheese may be fed to horses for a variety of reasons. Cheese is an excellent source of proteins and fats that helps support weight maintenance in horses. Additionally, it is a wonderful source of calcium, which is crucial for strong bones. Cheese is a fantastic technique to encourage horses to feed very slowly and may also help to calm the stomach.

Having mentioned these nutritional benefits of cheese, the fact remains that it is not a good option for horses. There are many more wholesome snacks and reward alternatives for your horse that may provide them with even better nutritional values and will not put them in danger of becoming sick.

What to Do When Your Horse Consumes Cheese

As a horse owner, immediately after you discover that your horse has consumed cheese, even in the slightest amount, your first line of action is to inform your veterinarian.

Remember that different horses react to things in different ways. Therefore, you shouldn’t wait to see if it will come down with the symptoms of lactose intolerance. Your best bet is to call your veterinarian!

Extra Tip

The feed-in moderation rule does not apply to this frequently consumed dairy product. Horses can consume several human foods, but only in moderation; cheese is an exception. Even feeding it in moderation is impossible. Even a tiny bit of cheese can easily get the horse into trouble. Just never feed it, regardless of whether the horse cries out for it.

Final Words

Cheese is not at all palatable to horses. Cheese is a type of dairy product that is exceedingly damaging to this poor lactose-intolerant little guy because it includes lactose and other components. Even though all types of cheese contain phosphorus, calcium, fat, and protein, they are all bad for you. Older horses are more vulnerable to its effects, which include severe colic, digestive problems, diarrhoea, and, in the worst cases, death. Try healthier substitutes to please your horse's palate.

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