Arugula in Equine Diets - Is It Safe for Your Horse to Consume?

Arugula in Equine Diets – Is It Safe for Your Horse to Consume?

Ever wondered what’s safe for your horse to munch on apart from its usual diet? You’re not alone. One question that often pops up is, “Can horses eat arugula?” It’s a valid query, considering the popularity of this leafy green in human diets.

Key Takeaways

  • Horses’ diets predominantly consist of forages like hay and grass but can incorporate varied foods like fruits with certain limitations.
  • Arugula, while beneficial to humans, may pose potential risks to horses due to differing digestive systems and presence of compounds like isothiocyanates that are toxic in large doses.
  • Feeding arugula to horses should be moderated and under the guidance of a vet or equine nutritionist to weigh safety and nutritional benefits.
  • Introduction of new foods into a horse’s diet should be gradual and mindful of the horse’s individual dietary needs.
  • Arugula possesses potential risks to horses including thyroid dysfunction, gastrointestinal issues, choking hazards, behavioral changes, and nutrient imbalance.
  • Considering alternative foods for horses, like hay, grains, processed feed, specific fruits and vegetables, and possibly nutritional supplements, can ensure a balanced diet and the horse’s overall health.

Introducing arugula to a horse’s diet can provide nutritional benefits, but it should be done cautiously. HorseDVM discusses the potential health impacts and appropriate portions when feeding arugula to horses. For those considering incorporating various greens into their horse’s diet, The Spruce Pets provides a list of safe and toxic plants, helping owners make informed choices.

Understanding a Horse’s Diet

A horse’s diet plays a significant role in maintaining its overall health and well-being. Horses predominantly consume forages like hay and grass — it often makes up 50-75% of their dietary intake. Additionally, they ingest grains for their energy, fiber, and protein requirements. However, remember to consider the horse’s age, size, and level of activity when planning a diet — an active racing horse requires a more nutrient-dense diet as compared to a stallion in school.

Many wonder if horses can hold a diverse diet beyond basic forage and grains. They can, but with certain limitations. It’s not uncommon for horse caregivers to incorporate fruits such as apples and carrots into a horse’s diet for variation. Horses enjoy these treats, and they also get added vitamins, akin to finding delight in a paper or a rock.

However, when we talk about leafy greens like arugula, it’s a different ball game. They aren’t typically found in a horse’s diet. Not every edible plant humans enjoy safely translates into the equine world. Here’s why. Different plants contain different chemical compounds. Some of these compounds might be harmful to horses. For instance, wilted, or frozen certain plants have been found to cause serious health problems in horses, such as laminitis or colic, particularly amidst the snow. Testing unknown plants for these compounds becomes critical, particularly if they’re to be introduced into a horse’s diet in America.

Before you consider feeding your horse arugula, consult with a vet or equine nutritionist, who can assess the safety and potential risks involved.

Arugula: An Overview

Arugula: An Overview

Arugula, known scientifically as Eruca sativa, belongs to the Brassicaceae family, alongside other leafy greens such as kale and cabbage. Arugula’s characterized by its peppery flavor and its high content of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. It proves beneficial to humans, contributing positively to heart health and aiding in weight management. The question arises, however, whether it’s safe or beneficial for consumption by horses.

Immediately, it’s important to note that horses possess differently constructed digestive systems than humans. They rely more heavily on fiber, consuming large quantities of grasses and hay. While we use arugula predominantly for its nutritional benefits, those same benefits don’t necessarily transfer in the same way to horses.

Arugula contains isothiocyanates, natural compounds that can prove toxic in large doses for horses. These compounds can disrupt thyroid function, posing potential harm. Concern arises primarily when horses consume these compounds in excessive quantities, or over an extended period of time. An occasional serving of arugula consists of a negligible amount of these compounds, unlikely to cause adverse effects.

Remember, moderation always holds key when introducing new foods to your horse’s diet. Always consider if a particular food provides a net positive benefit to your horse’s health after understanding its potential risks.

Given these points, it’s not necessarily harmful for a horse to have a taste of arugula occasionally. However, it’s definitely not a food item you’ll want to incorporate heavily into their dietary routine. Furthermore, before introducing any new foods into your horse’s diet, always consult with a veterinarian or equine nutritionist to ensure you’re making the most informed decision about their diet.

Can Horses Eat Arugula?

Can Horses Eat Arugula?

It’s imperative to carefully consider any changes to your horse’s diet. With arugula, moderate consumption is the safest approach. Due to the content of specific compounds, particularly notable in arugula—known as glucosinolates—overseas consumption can negatively impact your horse’s thyroid function. These compounds, abundant in all cruciferous vegetables, have the potential to interfere with iodine absorption, contributing to equine thyroid problems. Though small amounts won’t cause health issues, substantial doses might.

Supplementing your horse’s diet with arugula excessively could lead to toxicosis marked by signs like weight loss, lethargy, hair loss or changes in hair color. Remember, a horse’s digestive system differs vastly from a human’s, hence the consideration of plants in their diet requires a mindful approach. While some horses might enjoy the taste of arugula, others may outright reject the peppery leaf.

More so, every horse is unique. Their nutritional needs differ, especially with factors including age, weight, health status, breed, and workload. Merely because arugula is nutrient-dense for humans doesn’t guarantee comparable advantages for horses too.

Arugula, a nutritious leafy green, offers a substantial amount of Vitamin K, A, and C, essential minerals like calcium, and potent antioxidants beneficial for human health. Nonetheless, professionals iteratively stress that horses primarily gain these nutrients from their standard diet of hay and pasture grasses, making additional supplementation often unnecessary.

Introducing arugula or any new feed into your horse’s regimen warrants careful assessment. Considering consulting an equine nutritionist or a veterinarian remains a prudent rule of thumb. Ensure that any new feeding practice aligns with the horse’s dietary needs and doesn’t disrupt their overall health. This cautious approach empowers you to make educated decisions, contributing to the well-being of your horse.

There’s no definite yes or no answer to whether horses can eat arugula, largely contingent on the horse’s specific needs and tolerances. As a horse caretaker, your knowledge, combined with professional advice, informs a balanced dietary strategy. Remember, when in doubt, moderation is key.

Risks Involved in Feeding Arugula to Horses

Introducing arugula in your horse’s diet entails risks, crucial ones revolving around thyroid dysfunction and arugula toxicosis. Iodine, an important component for thyroid function, can get offset with the ingestion of compounds present in arugula, particularly goitrogenic substances. When consumed in excess, these substances create a risk of thyroid dysfunction, potentially resulting in weight loss, lethargy, and other health-related issues.

Arugula, although low in sugar and starch content, contains chemical compounds named saponins. In horses, these saponins can cause irritation in their gastrointestinal tract, leading to conditions like colic or bloating. More severe consequences may include organ damage due to their disruption of cell membranes.

Besides thyroid dysfunction and gastrointestinal issues, consider the risk of choking. Horses, accustomed to slowly grazing on grasses and hay, might find leafy greens like arugula unfamiliar and challenging to consume safely. A large chunk can obstruct their airway, possibly resulting in a choking hazard.

Moreover, coping with a sudden change in diet could express in a horse’s behavior. Behavioral issues such as mood swings or reduced energy levels can manifest, indicating discomfort.

Lastly, remember the risk of nutrient imbalance. Contending with nutrient-dense forage and grass, arugula’s nutritional contributions might offset your horse’s balanced diet. While arugula packs a myriad of nutrients for humans, it might not provide the same benefits for horses.

To mitigate these risks, professional guidance remains paramount. An equine nutritionist or a vet can inspect your horse’s current health status, helping you make an informed decision about introducing arugula into its diet. Your horse’s age, weight, and overall health require unique dietary considerations. Careful moderation, coupled with sound advice, ensures your horse’s health remains unaffected despite the introduction of a new food source like arugula.

Alternative Foods for Horses

In light of potential health risks associated with unconventional foods like arugula, it’s important to explore other alternatives for horses. These include well-known staples and new choices that could enhance the variety in your horse’s diet.

  1. Hay: The gold standard in equine nutrition, hay provides necessary fiber and nutrients. Its variants include Timothy, Bermuda, and Alfalfa, each having unique nutritional profiles. For example, Timothy hay contains high fiber and low protein content, fitting horses with low caloric requirements.
  2. Grains: Nutrient-rich grains like oats, barley, and corn are excellent food sources, provided they’re served in correct quantities. While oats offer balanced nutrients like protein and fiber, the dense energy content of corn might be ideal for working horses.
  3. Processed feed: An array of commercially available processed horse feeds offer nutritional convenience. Ensuring these feeds meet the National Research Council’s guidelines for horse nutrition is essential.
  4. Fruit and vegetables: Apples and carrots are customary treats for horses. Yet, other veggies and fruits like bananas or squash could safely diversify their diet.
  5. Grass: Continuous grazing mimics natural horse behavior, benefiting not only their health but also their mental well-being. Varieties like Kentucky bluegrass or ryegrass serve as good pasture options.
  6. Supplements: With a balanced diet, most horses don’t require additional supplements. However, certain conditions like old age or high physical demand might necessitate supplements rich in vitamins, minerals, or specific nutrients.

Remember, dietary changes should occur gradually, offering small amounts initially and incrementing over time. Above all, consultation with an equine dietitian or veterinarian becomes indispensable. It ensures your horse’s diet meets its nutritional needs, considers its unique factors like age or health status, and avoids foods that might cause harm, maintaining your horse’s health and well-being.


So, you’re now aware of the potential hazards of feeding arugula to your horse. It’s not a risk worth taking, considering the potential thyroid problems and other health issues it could cause. Instead, stick to the tried-and-true horse feeds like hay, grains, and certain fruits and vegetables. Remember, if you’re thinking of incorporating new foods into your horse’s diet, it’s always best to consult with a professional. They can help guide you based on your horse’s specific needs and factors. Your horse’s health is paramount, and a balanced, nutritious diet is key to maintaining it. With careful consideration and professional advice, you can ensure your horse thrives.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I feed my horse arugula?

While it’s possible, it’s generally not advisable to feed horses arugula without professional consultation. Arugula contains compounds that can potentially be toxic to horses, affecting their thyroid function and causing toxicosis.

What other issues can arise from horses eating arugula?

Apart from thyroid dysfunction, horses that consume arugula can potentially experience gastrointestinal issues and organ damage. So, it’s important to consult with an equine professional before introducing new foods in your horse’s diet.

What are the alternative food options for horses?

Horses can consume a variety of foods such as hay, grains, processed feed, fruits, vegetables, grass, and supplements. Each food should be introduced gradually and in consultation with an equine professional.

How important is it to tailor a horse’s diet to its individual needs?

It’s crucial to tailor a horse’s diet to its individual needs to maintain its health and well-being. A horse’s diet should be part of a comprehensive care plan that takes into account its age, workload, existing health conditions, and unique factors.

How can I ensure my horse’s diet is balanced and nutritious?

To ensure a horse’s diet is balanced and nutritious, it’s recommended to consult with an equine professional who can provide guidance on feed selection, portion sizes, and dietary changes. It’s also advisable to consider the horse’s unique factors, such as age, health conditions, and workload.