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Can Horses Eat Grapes?

Can Horses Eat Grapes

Have you ever wondered if it’s okay to share a bunch of juicy grapes with your horse while you munch on some yourself? Horses, like us, often enjoy a good treat, but only some things in our fruit bowl are safe for our hoofed friends. 

Today, we’re diving into the world of grapes. Those sweet, tempting little fruits—whether they belong in your horse’s snack time. 

This isn’t just about “can they” eat grapes, but more importantly, “should they?” So, grab a cluster of grapes, and let’s explore what’s best for our equine companions regarding these delicious bites.

Can Horses Eat Grapes?

Yes, horses can eat grapes. But just because they can doesn’t mean you should go overboard. Grapes should be given as a treat, not as a main part of their diet. 

Think of them like candy for horses—tasty and fine in small amounts. Always introduce any new food slowly and watch how your horse reacts. 

It’s a good idea to check with your vet first to ensure that grapes suit your horse’s specific health needs.

Digestive System of Horses

A horse’s digestive system is unique and delicate. Unlike us, horses have a one-way street for food; they can’t vomit. 

Their digestion starts in the mouth, where, like us, chewing mixes the food with saliva to make it easier to digest. The food then travels down into their relatively small stomach, meaning they must eat little and often.

From there, it goes into the intestines. First up is the small intestine, where most nutrients get absorbed. 

What’s left heads into the large intestine, including the cecum—like our appendix but way more important for them. This is where the magic happens, breaking down tough plant fibers that horses love to eat.

It’s a system that works well, but it’s easy to upset. The right diet and feeding routine are important for keeping a horse healthy and happy.

The Role of Fruits in a Horse’s Diet

Fruits can play a fun and beneficial role in a horse’s diet, but they’re like the sprinkles on a cake—not the main ingredient. They’re great for a little variety and can add some natural sugars and vitamins that are good for your horse.

However, you need to introduce any fruit slowly and in small amounts. Horses have sensitive digestive systems designed to process grass and hay. 

Too much fruit can lead to sugar overload, which might cause issues like obesity or dental problems.

When using fruits as treats, think of them as occasional delights. They can be a good way to bond with your horse or as a reward during training. Just keep it balanced—like everything else in life.

Recommended Serving Size for Grapes

The recommended serving size for grapes for a horse is quite modest. A handful, or approximately 8 to 10 grapes, is just enough. 

This small quantity helps prevent potential issues, like an upset stomach if a horse eats too much sugar at once.

Feed grapes as a special treat, not a regular part of their diet. And, like with any treat, introduce grapes gradually, especially if your horse has yet to have them. 

This way, you can watch for any adverse reactions and ensure your horse safely enjoys this sweet treat.

Health Benefits of Feeding Your Horse Grapes

Each of these benefits shows how grapes can be a lovely treat for your horse, contributing to their diet in a positive and tasty way. Remember to keep it to a few as part of a balanced approach.

Hydration. Grapes are packed with water, making them a juicy snack that can help keep your horse hydrated, especially on hot days or after a workout. A few grapes can be a refreshing way to help them reduce their water intake.

Energy. Grapes’ natural sugars provide a quick source of energy. This can be particularly useful during or after intense exercise, giving your horse a little energy boost when needed. While not as high in fiber as their usual hay or grass, grapes contain some fiber, which is important for a healthy digestive system. It helps to keep everything moving smoothly in their gut.

Nutrients. Grapes are rich in essential nutrients that benefit your horse’s overall health. They provide vitamins like vitamin C, which supports the immune system, and potassium, which is crucial for muscle function and overall cellular health.

Antioxidants. Grapes are also known for their antioxidants, including resveratrol, which can help protect your horse’s cells from damage. This is key for maintaining long-term health and combating the stresses of training and aging.

Taste and palatability. Let’s face it: grapes are tasty. They’re sweet and crunchy, and horses generally find them delicious. Giving grapes can be a great way to encourage a picky eater or make feeding time a bit more exciting.

Nutritional Content of Grapes

This table provides an overview of the major nutrients found in grapes.

NutrientAmount per 100g
Calories69 kcal
Water81 g
Protein0.7 g
Carbohydrates18 g
Sugars15 g
Fiber0.9 g
Fat0.2 g
Vitamin C4 mg
Vitamin K14.6 µg
Vitamin B60.1 mg
Potassium191 mg
Magnesium7 mg
Phosphorus20 mg
Calcium10 mg
Iron0.4 mg

How to Incorporate Grapes into Horses’ Diet

Incorporating grapes into your horse’s diet can be a fun way to add variety and enjoyment to their feeding routine. Here’s how to do it safely and effectively:

Start slowly. Offer just a few grapes to see how your horse reacts, both in terms of taste and digestive response. This initial step helps you gauge their interest and tolerance.

Check for allergies. Just like humans, horses can have allergies. After the first few times of feeding grapes, look for any unusual symptoms, such as hives, itchiness, or digestive upset.

Feed as a treat. Grapes should be considered a treat and not a dietary staple. Use them as a reward during training sessions or as a special snack. This keeps their diet balanced and prevents overconsumption of sugars.

Moderate quantity. Stick to a small quantity—about 8 to 10 grapes at a time. This helps maintain the nutritional balance of your horse’s diet and avoids sugar overload.

Wash thoroughly. Always wash the grapes thoroughly to remove any pesticides or contaminants that could harm your horse.

Hand-feed or mix with other foods. You can hand-feed grapes to make treat time interactive or mix them into their usual feed as a surprise. Cutting them in half can prevent any choking hazard and make them easier to digest.

Monitor sugar intake. Be mindful of the overall sugar intake from fruits, including grapes. Horses with conditions like insulin resistance or those prone to laminitis should have a very limited amount, if any.

How to Prepare Grapes for Horses

Preparing grapes for horses is straightforward but requires attention to ensure they’re safe and enjoyable for your horse. Here’s a quick guide:

Choose fresh grapes. Start with fresh, ripe grapes. Avoid any that are overly soft, bruised, or showing signs of mold.

Wash thoroughly. Rinse the grapes thoroughly under cold water to remove pesticides, dirt, or other residues. This is especially important if you’re not using organic grapes.

Cut for safety. Although grapes are small, it’s safer to cut them in half to prevent any risk of choking.

Remove the stems. Discard all stems before feeding grapes to your horse, as they can pose a choking hazard and aren’t digestible.

Serve in moderation. Grapes should be given as a treat and not as a main part of the diet. A small handful, about 8 to 10 grapes, is enough. This helps prevent any digestive upset from too much sugar.

Hand feeding. Feeding grapes by hand can be a good way to strengthen your bond with your horse. Make sure your fingers are clear of their mouth to avoid accidental nipping.

Monitor your horse. The first few times your horse eats grapes, keep an eye on it. Look for any signs of digestive upset or allergic reactions, and if you notice anything unusual, consult your veterinarian.

Horse Treats to Make with Grapes

Making horse treats with grapes can be fun to mix up your horse’s treat routine with something fresh and nutritious. Here are a few simple recipes you can try:

1. Grape and carrot medley


  • 1 cup of seedless grapes, halved
  • 1 cup of carrots, diced
  • 1 cup of apples, diced


  • Mix the halved grapes, diced carrots, and apples in a bowl.
  • Serve this fresh medley in your horse’s feed dish as a special treat during meal times or as a reward.

2. Frozen grape treats


  • 1 cup of seedless grapes, whole or halved
  • Water or unsweetened apple juice


  • Place the grapes in an ice cube tray.
  • Fill the tray with water or unsweetened apple juice, covering the grapes.
  • Freeze until solid.
  • Pop out a few frozen treats and give them to your horse as a refreshing snack on a hot day.

3. Grape and oat balls


  • 1 cup seedless grapes, crushed
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup flaxseed (optional for extra nutrition)


  • Mix the crushed grapes with rolled oats, molasses, and flaxseed in a large bowl until well combined.
  • Form the mixture into small balls about the size of a golf ball.
  • Let them dry on a baking sheet or harden in the refrigerator.
  • Feed them as a tasty hand-held treat.

4. Grape mash surprise


  • 1 cup seedless grapes, halved
  • 1 banana, mashed
  • 1/2 cup chopped hay or alfalfa pellets
  • 1/4 cup honey (optional)


  • Combine the halved grapes, mashed banana, chopped hay, and honey in a large bowl.
  • Mix well until the ingredients are evenly distributed.
  • Serve this mash as a special indulgence for your horse, perfect for adding a bit of extra hydration and nutrients to their diet.

Tips for Safely Feeding Grapes to Horses

Feeding grapes to horses can be a delightful treat for them, but it’s important to do it safely to avoid health issues. Here are some tips to ensure you feed grapes to your horse safely:

Introduce gradually. Start with a small quantity of grapes to see how your horse reacts in taste and digestion. Gradual introduction helps avoid sudden changes in their diet, which can lead to digestive disturbances.

Feed in moderation. Grapes are high in sugar, so they should be given as a treat, not a regular part of the horse’s diet. A handful of grapes (about 8-10) is enough at one time.

Wash thoroughly. Always wash the grapes before feeding them to remove any pesticides, chemicals, or other contaminants on the surface. This is particularly important if you are using something other than organic grapes.

Cut them up. Cut the grapes in half to prevent choking, especially in smaller horses or ponies. This makes them easier to chew and digest.

Monitor for allergic reactions. While it’s rare, some horses might have an allergic reaction to grapes. After feeding grapes for the first time, watch your horse for signs of distress such as hives, swelling, or gastrointestinal upset.

Check with your vet. If your horse has specific health issues like diabetes or is prone to colic, consult your veterinarian before introducing any new food into their diet.

Avoid raisins. While grapes are safe in moderation, raisins (dried grapes) are much more concentrated in sugar and should be avoided unless your vet approves.

Use as a training aid. Grapes, due to their small size and palatability, can be great training aids. Use them to reward good behavior during training sessions.

Store properly. Ensure that any uneaten grapes are properly stored away from your horse’s reach to prevent them from eating too many at once.

Risks and Side Effects of Grapes on Horses

While grapes can be a tasty treat for horses, they aren’t without risks and potential side effects. Horse owners need to be aware of these risks to ensure the health and safety of their equine companions:

Sugar content. Grapes are high in sugars, which can be a concern for horses. High sugar intake can lead to an increased risk of these conditions worsening.

Choking hazard. Due to their size and smooth texture, whole grapes can be a choking hazard.  

Digestive upset. Horses have sensitive digestive systems designed for grass and fibrous feed. Introducing high amounts of fruits like grapes can cause digestive upset, including diarrhea or colic.

Allergic reactions. Although rare, horses can have allergic reactions to any food, including grapes. 

Potential toxicity. There is ongoing debate and limited research on the potential toxicity of grapes to horses. However, caution is advised due to the unknowns and variability in individual horse reactions.

Pesticide exposure. If grapes are not washed properly, there can be a risk of pesticide exposure, which can be harmful to your horse’s health.

Symptoms of Grapes Poisoning in Horses

While the potential toxicity of grapes to horses is not clearly defined, you need to be cautious and observant when introducing grapes. If grapes were to cause toxicity in horses, the symptoms might be similar to those seen in other species. 

Here’s what you might look out for as possible signs of a negative reaction or poisoning:

  • Gastrointestinal distress
  • Lethargy
  • Kidney issues
  • Neurological signs
  • Hypersensitivity reactions

Horses that Shouldn’t Feed on Grapes

While grapes can be a tasty treat for some horses, there are specific conditions where feeding grapes might not be suitable. Here are categories of horses that should avoid grapes:

Insulin-resistant horses. Horses with insulin resistance have difficulty processing sugars and starches. The high sugar content in grapes can exacerbate their condition.

Horses with a history of laminitis. Laminitis is a serious and painful hoof condition. Since it can be triggered or worsened by high sugar intake, horses with laminitis should avoid sugary treats like grapes.

Obese horses. For horses that are overweight, managing their caloric intake is crucial. The sugars in grapes can contribute to weight gain and complicate efforts to achieve a healthy weight.

Horses with metabolic syndrome. Equine Metabolic Syndrome is closely linked to insulin resistance and obesity. Horses with EMS should avoid high-sugar foods, including grapes.

Horses with allergic reactions to grapes. If a horse has previously shown any signs of allergy to grapes, such as hives or swelling, they should not be fed grapes again.

Safe Treats for Your Horses

When treating your horse, plenty of safe options can be enjoyed in moderation alongside their regular diet. Here’s a list of some commonly accepted and enjoyed treats for horses:

  • Carrots
  • Apples
  • Hay cubes
  • Peppermints
  • Bananas
  • Watermelon
  • Celery
  • Pumpkin
  • Oats
  • Herbs

Harmful Food for Horses

You must know which foods to avoid feeding horses, as some can be dangerous or fatal. Here are several foods that are harmful and should never be fed to horses:

1. Chocolate. Chocolate contains theobromine, which is toxic to horses. It can lead to heart issues, seizures, and,d in severe cases, death.

2. Avocado. All parts of the avocado—including the fruit, pit, and leaves—are toxic to horses. They contain a substance called persin, which can cause respiratory distress, congestion, and heart damage.

3. Caffeinated beverages and foods. Coffee, tea, soda, and energy drinks contain caffeine that can cause cardiac arrhythmias and nervous system disorders in horses.

4. Garlic and onions. These vegetables can destroy red blood cells in horses, leading to anemia. This is also true for related vegetables like chives and leeks.

5. Tomatoes. Tomatoes are part of the nightshade family and are toxic to horses. They can cause gastrointestinal distress.

6. Potatoes. Also, a nightshade family member, raw potatoes can harm horses, leading to toxicity. Cooked potatoes should also be avoided due to their solanine content.

7. Rhubarb. Rhubarb leaves contain oxalic acid, which can cause severe kidney damage to horses.

8. Bread and other doughy products. These can expand in a horse’s stomach, leading to colic and digestive blockage.

9. Meat and dairy products. Horses are herbivores and lack the digestive enzymes to process meat and dairy products properly. These can lead to digestive upset.

10. Sugar-rich and processed foods. These can disrupt a horse’s digestive system and lead to dental problems, obesity, and metabolic disturbances.

11. Alcohol. Alcohol causes coordination problems, CNS issues, and potential respiratory failure.


Can horses eat frozen fruits?

Yes, horses can eat frozen fruits. However, you need to thaw the fruits first to prevent any risk of choking or tooth damage. Frozen fruits like apples, melons, and berries can be refreshing, especially in hot weather.
Related read: Can horses eat carrots?

Can horses eat carrots?

Yes, horses can eat carrots. Carrots are a nutritious and widely accepted treat for horses, providing vitamins and fiber. They should be washed and cut into manageable pieces to prevent choking.

Can horses have grape juice?

No, horses should not have grape juice. While grapes can be fed in moderation, grape juice is concentrated in sugars and lacks the fiber of whole grapes, which could lead to digestive upset or other metabolic issues.

Can horses have grape vines?

No, horses should not have grape vines. Parts of the grape vine, including the leaves and stems, may contain toxic compounds to horses. Stick to feeding safe parts of plants and always consult with a veterinarian if unsure.


So, can horses eat grapes? Yes, they can. A few grapes can be a sweet treat for your horse, like a little dessert after dinner. 

Remember, moderation is key. Too many, and you might have a problem on your hands. 

Always wash them well, cut them up, and watch for unusual reactions. Whether bonding over a few juicy grapes or just giving a special snack, you’re sure to bring joy to your horse’s day. 

Just be sure to chat with your vet first. Happy feeding, and enjoy those precious moments with your four-legged friend.

Picture of Dr. Noman Tariq

Dr. Noman Tariq

Dr. Noman Tariq, a seasoned veterinarian with a DVM from ARID University and an MPhil in Animal Nutrition from UVAS, specializes in equine health. His deep passion for horse nutrition and well-being drives his work, offering invaluable advice for horse owners. Dr. Tariq's expertise ensures horses lead vibrant, healthy lives.
You can read my full bio here

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Can Horses Eat Grapes?