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Are Horse Treats Safe for Dogs?

I’ve noticed that a couple of barn dogs like to eat HoofSnax or FlaxSnax if they are left within reach. I’ve wondered if the biotin in the HoofSnax would hurt the dogs in any way. Also I’ve noticed that the horses love dog Milkbones too. Would there be any problems with feeding the occasional horse treat to a dog or dog treat to a horse? Thanks, VC, Florida

Dear VC,

Generally, it’s best to feed treats and foods made specifically for a particular species of animal just to that animal and not to another species. This is because, even though dogs, horses, cats, and humans are all mammals, we’re each made and function a little differently and therefore we metabolize some ingredients a little differently. You may already be aware of some of these differences.

For example, I love chocolate! And it has no effect on me except to make me deliriously happy (and extra “curvy”). However, dogs metabolize chocolate into caffeine—which they are very sensitive to—and can develop serious heart and muscle dysfunction as a result. So, no chocolate for dogs. In the same way, my husband takes acetaminophen (Tylenol) for his aches and pains but we’re very careful to keep it away from our cat because this particular drug is toxic to the feline species. An example in horses is food or mineral blocks made for cattle may contain the growth promotant monensin (Rumensin) which can be fatal in equines.

So I don’t mean to scare you, but unless you carefully read the individual ingredients on the label of each product you wish to share among species—and diligently cross check it against the known toxins for that species—you might be setting up either your dogs or your horses for trouble. I suggest feeding the horses “horse treats” and the dogs “dog treats” (and the people “people treats”) unless you do your homework.

This week, I’ll do your homework for you! Here are the ingredients in HoofSnax:
wheat flour, ground flaxseed, stabilized rice bran, oats, brown sugar, vegetable oil, cinnamon, brewer’s dried yeast, artificial flavors, salt, rosemary, and biotin

I don’t see anything in this ingredient list that should be a problem for dogs. There’s 20mg of biotin (one daily serving for a horse) in 7 cookies, which means there’s about 3mg of biotin in one cookie. I looked on the label of a dog skin & coat supplement that contains biotin and a 50 lb dog would get 3mg per serving so this amount of biotin should be safe in a dog.

FlaxSnax has the same ingredients as HoofSnax minus the biotin.

Finally, about feeding Milk-Bones to horses. They contain:
wheat flour, wheat bran, beef meal and beef bone meal, wheat germ, milk, beef fat preserved with tocopherols, salt, minerals, chicken meal, malted barley flour, brewers dried yeast, sodium metabisulfite (dough conditioner), vitamins, poultry digest, dried cheese, natural and artificial flavor, malic acid, garlic powder.

Again, I don’t see anything that jumps out as toxic to horses, just some things they’re not used to eating, such as beef, chicken and other poultry, and dairy products. I have a horse with a very sensitive GI tract and I would not give a dog treat to him for fear of causing colic, diarrhea or other disturbances.

Lydia F. Gray, DVM, MA SmartPak Staff Veterinarian and Medical Director Dr. Lydia Gray has earned a Bachelor of Science in agriculture, a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM), and a Master of Arts focusing on interpersonal and organizational communication. After “retiring” from private practice, she put her experience and education to work as the American Association of Equine Practitioner’s first-ever Director of Owner Education. Dr. Gray continues to provide health and nutrition information to horse owners through her position at SmartPak, through publication in more than a dozen general and trade publications, and through presentations around the country. She is the very proud owner of a Trakehner named Newman that she actively competes with in dressage and combined driving. In addition to memberships in the USDF and USEF, Dr. Gray is also a member of the Illinois Dressage and Combined Training Association (IDCTA). She is a USDF “L” Program Graduate and is currently working on her Bronze Medal. Find Dr. Gray on Google+

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7 comments on “Are Horse Treats Safe for Dogs?
  1. Laurie H. says:

    Keep it simple. Feed them all carrots!

    • Luciana says:

      Wow Judy, I am so sorry to hear about Baja and his cancer. This makes me so sad. I know for a FACT that you being there for him and still trnetiag him as a horse and friend will make him spend the time he has left on earth the best he could spend anywhere. You are so right, I often take for granted the gifts God has given me to take care of and I do not want to do that. Everyday, every person and animal I hold dear to me, should be such a joy. Thank you for reminding me. I am proud to be a part of the Heart of Tucson because it makes me remember that life is precious and love is forgiving. So many hurt horses that I have seen in my last month or so go through Heart, have brought inspiration and renewed HOPE AND FAITH in life. I call them Miracles because if it wasn’t for HEART, these animals would have died. Baja is giving us his best and we are giving all of the rescues our best. THAT is what life is all about. Heart gives comfort, love and healing to EVERYONE involved. Thank you Domino, Tamale, Baja and the rest of ya all for giving us love, comfort and healing too! We love and cherish you all. P.S. Judy, thanks for making me cry so early in the morning, but it is a good cry, a good reminder to remember how much I can love. Keep it up : ) And as for Digalow and my first pony Fantasy, they are both proud that we are out there saving their friends They are probably saying keep it up moms, don’t give up One horse at a time makes a GREAT difference!

  2. Nancy Griffin` says:

    and apples

  3. Allissa says:

    I go horse back riding and the dog there LOVES my horse treats and the owner of the barn suggest no to give him a lot. But the horses don’t eat the dog food ( or treats) or cat food / treats. So I suggest not to give your horse dog treats but you can give a dog one or two horse treats

  4. Hannah says:

    I went to the barn and forgot about a treat in my pocket and I was wondering if I could give it to my four dogs.

    • SmartPak SmartPak says:

      Hi Hannah,

      Thank you for your question. Even though dogs, horses, cats, and humans are all mammals, we’re each made and function a little differently and therefore we metabolize some ingredients a little differently. Whether or not a horse treat is appropriate for your dog will vary depending on the type of treat and the ingredients included, as well as any individual health concerns your dogs may have so in general, I recommend NOT giving horse treats to dogs. If you would like to give a particular horse treat to your dog, I suggest checking in with your dog’s veterinarian to determine if it would be appropriate.

      – Dr. Lydia Gray

  5. Char says:

    Are horse treats that contain supplemental copper safe for dogs to eat periodically ?

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