Feeding supplements to horses | Your questions answered

A bay mare with her foal stand in a concrete floored yard. The mare has her head down checking out the contents of the feed tub in front of her foal. The foal is looking up and off camera.

Feeding supplements to horses

Feeding supplements to horses can be a confusing topic – there is loads of information out there, both reliable and less so. Dr David Marlin is here to answer your most common horse supplement questions.

Is garlic toxic to horses?

How much garlic is too much?

Garlic is toxic for your horse when fed at more than ~50-100g per day to a 500kg horse.

Do you think garlic is ok for a horse or pony with sweetitch?

A small pile of garlic granules on a wooden plank in an article about popular horse supplement questions.

I have not seen any evidence that garlic can help sweetitch nor can I understand why it would be expected to. For example, garlic does not deter flies or midges, contrary to popular belief.

I don’t think it will do any harm but I have not seen any evidence that it would help.

What is garlic used for?

Does garlic work the same for horses as for people?

In people there is good evidence for garlic reducing LDL-C, total cholesterol, blood pressure and rate of illness. But this is at a rate of around 23g per day per 80kg, which would equate to 144g per day for a 500kg horse which would almost certainly be toxic and result in Heinz body aneamia.

I have heard that feeding garlic to horses can cause anaemia

Is that true for a measure of garlic normally given as a horse supplement?

Possibly. The amount needed to induce Heinz body anaemia in horses is quite low.

Does the form of garlic given affect the results?

For example, garlic in liquid, granule or powder form

I am not aware of any positive effects of garlic in horses.

Is linseed a good source of Vitamin E in the winter?

What is a good source of Vitamin E for horses when grass quality decreases?

Linseed doesn’t contain very much Vitamin E. Linseed is great for the GI (gastrointestinal) tract and as a source of energy and protein. If you want to supplement due to deficiencies in preserved forage, then a general purpose balanced vitamin and mineral supplement with Vitamin E and C in would be a good choice.

Handful of linseed in article about common questions about feeding horse supplements

What do you think of feeding charcoal to horses with gastric problems?

I would only use it short term in cases of poisoning or other toxicity.

How do I switch my horse from one brand of supplements to another?

Is switching horse supplement brands the same as changing horse feed brands?

No, it’s a small amount each day and there would be little risk in stopping one and starting another. You could taper one out and the other in over a week to be safe and reduce the risk of palatability issues.

What is the most effective form of horse joint supplement?

Oil, liquid or powder?

There is no evidence to suggest that oil or liquid have any advantage over powder. In fact the liquid supplements hold less active ingredients so generally likely to be less effective. Here is a complete list: Feed in Focus – Joint Supplement Comparison Table.

– Dr David Marlin

Thank you, Dr Marlin, for answering our most common customer questions about horse supplements.

If you have any more questions about feeding supplements to horses, our friendly team of nutritionists is here to help. Email the team at [email protected] or call us on 01458 333 333, Monday to Friday 9 am to 5 pm.

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