Can Horses eat Nuts?

Can horses eat nuts is complicated? A horse is a natural grazer, and he loves his alfalfa and grains with the odd treat thrown in. He can eat a few incidental nuts (almonds) without danger. Other nuts could actually kill him, especially fruit pips, as certain pips and nuts contain cyanide a substance that can be fatal to a horse.

Nuts and their surrounding hulls can be highly dangerous to a horse. Nuts lying on the ground tend to mold, and if the horse eats moldy walnuts, toxins in it can cause liver cancer and death. Acorns from the oak tree are dangerous to horses, and something he would only eat if he was hungry. Oak trees make good shelter for the horse, so it is important to rake and remove the nuts daily to prevent the horse from eating them off the ground around the tree.. Alternatively, fence the tree off or put the horse elsewhere. Oak trees are slow to grow, and as they make good shelter for other animals you probably won’t want to remove them.

Know which Trees are Dangerous to Horses

If you keep horses, knowing which trees are toxic to them does help. People will ask can horses eat nuts? My answer is only a few 6-8 almonds as treat, and obviously, a big horse is not going to gain any health benefits from the almonds in such small amounts. As they love most fruit so much I would focus on fruit and keep them right away from nuts. They seem to like sweet things most of all, and nuts are not sweet, so when a horse eats nuts he is probably attracted by the salty quality contained in the nut.

Horses and Almonds

Because almonds are actually drupes ( members of the fruit family), horses do seem to like them. When the nuts have been hulled, the hull is incorporated into livestock feed, and because they have been reduced to dietary fiber they can be fed to horses and are very digestible in this form and highly palatable to the horse. Racehorses are now given a supplement containing vitamin E that would be contained in almonds if they could eat enough of them, as it is essential for hoof health making it the right supplement for a racehorse. The hulls of the almond contain some Vitamin E when eaten in feed, and that would probably be enough to maintain the hoof health of a domestic horse, not racing. However, if you find that your horse is suffering from any foot/hoof problems and he is unshod, you will need to get a supplement like Nano-E containing enough vitamin E to maintain the hooves in a healthy state.

Nuts can be Safe or Unsafe for Horses

  • Horses should not be fed selenium as it is cumulative and toxic to a horse. Brazil nuts contain selenium and most horses like them, but this nut should not be given to the horse.
  • Horses must not be fed peanuts as they are unable to digest them and will clog up inside them.
  • The leaves of a pistachio tree are toxic to horses so keep them away from them. The nuts are an oxidizing toxin, leading to systemic anemia and death.
  • Alternatively pecan nuts are safe for horses to eat, only give small amounts as a treat, and so are cashews.
  • Avacado is not a nut, but the stones or pits and the skin are highly toxic to horses. Do not risk putting the horse in a paddock with an avocado tree.

There are certain nuts that your horse must not eat, so it is better to keep him in a field or paddock without nut trees to stay safe, and you can source a list of trees suitable for planting around horses in your local area from the vet, or local agricultural department.


When you are asked can horses eat nuts? The answer depends on the nut, and you need to be absolutely certain that the nut you are feeding to your horse is safe. So make a list of nuts and fruits that you can’t feed to your horse and put it up on the feed door so that you can refer to it.