Pumpkins For Ponies: Not a Bad Treat

With Halloween upon us (and Thanksgiving coming in a hurry), it can be tempting to feed horses some of the pumpkins we use to decorate our houses and barns. While feeding horses orange pumpkins is safe, they should not ingest other types of squash or pumpkins. As with most foodstuffs outside of hay, rations should be limited.

There are quite a few foods that humans can ingest that are toxic to horses; lists of these are accessible from multiple universities and equine organizations, reports The Horse. Also important to know, in addition to toxicity, is the food’s nutrient profile; this can help determine if horses with metabolic issues can safely ingest the food.

In humans, the glycemic index compares the potential for foods with the same amount of carbohydrates to raise blood glucose. Glycemic load multiples the glycemic index by the amount of carbohydrates in the food and divides it by 100.

Pumpkin has a glycemic index of 75, but its glycemic load is only 3, meaning that it won’t cause a rapid increase in blood glucose. Pumpkin is also high in potassium. While this is not an issue for many horses, those with hyperkalemic periodic paralysis should have limited potassium intake, and therefore shouldn’t eat pumpkins.

While orange pumpkins are not harmful to horses, it’s wise to feed only a few cups or one small pumpkin to a horse each day. Pumpkin can be presented to horses to ingest in multiple ways, including hung from a stall as a toy, cooked into horse treats or cut up and top dressed into feed.

Read more at The Horse.

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