Feeding Oranges to Horses: What Are the Benefits?

Can horses eat oranges?

Short answer: yes apart from regular hay and forage, horses love taking occasional treats, and oranges are one of their favorites. 

Not only do they add variety to a horse’s diet, but they also help reinforce positive behavior.

Serving healthy treats to horses also strengthens the bond between the horse owner and the horse. Here’s more about the subject.

Don’t forget to also check our guide on “Can Horses Eat Bananas?”

Can Horses Eat Oranges?

dark brown horse with 4 fresh oranges. can horses eat oranges?

Yes, horses can eat oranges. Forget the belief that citric acid can cause digestion problems.

On the contrary, citric acid ensures the speedy recovery of muscles. Horses are pretty athletic and need strong muscles to engage in strenuous activities.

Oranges aid in this recovery and provide essential nutrients to a horse’s regular diet.

Veterinarians recommend feeding old horses oranges to reduce Vitamin C deficiency.

What’s more, the fluid in oranges keeps your horse hydrated. We’ll explain their benefits in detail in a bit.

Can Horses Eat Orange Peels?

orange peels in a white background. can horses eat orange peels?

Wondering if horses can eat orange peels?

You’ll be surprised; like can horses eat bananas with peels, horses love oranges so much that they eat the flesh, the peels, and the seeds.

Research shows an orange peel contains oil that facilitates speedy recovery after extended periods of physical exercise.

Other benefits of orange peels include:

  • Boosting immunity
  • Enhance cardiovascular recovery
  • Contain compounds that inhibit inflammation and development of tumors

However, the pungent smell and bitter taste can be off-putting to some horses causing them to avoid eating oranges.

If your horse exhibits contempt when served orange peels, it’s best to remove the skin and serve the flesh.

Benefits of Oranges to Horses

Oranges not only have a sweet taste but also have nutritional benefits. Here are some of them:

Supply essential vitamins and minerals

Oranges are rich in a range of nutrients: Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, phosphorus, sugars, dietary fiber, and potassium. 

They are more potent in Vitamin C as a 100g serving contains 53.2 mg.

Vitamin C is known for its ability to boost immunity by stimulating the formation of antibodies.

What’s more, since it’s a water-soluble antioxidant, it fights free radicals which damage cells and body tissues

Potent in hesperidin

Hesperidin is a natural bioflavonoid that supports blood flow during strenuous activities.

The compound reduces hemorrhaging from blood capillaries; thus used to help horses who develop exercise-induced bleeding from the lungs.

Rich in soluble fiber

Fiber absorbs water and forms a gel substance in the digestive tract that aids in digestion. A serving of 3.5 ounces of an orange contains 2.3 grams of fiber.

Also check: Can Horses Eat Mangos?

Are Oranges Toxic to Horses?

fresh oranges in a tree

Oranges aren’t poisonous to horses. No evidence or research can prove that oranges are harmful to horse health.

The only downside is the irritants in peels and leaves of the citrus family that cause skin problems.

Also, oranges contain high potassium levels, which cause problems in horses with Hyperkalemic periodic paralysis (HYPP). 

This genetic condition causes muscle fasciculation, weakness, and spasms, and triggers like high-potassium diets increase the likelihood of paralysis. 

Oranges can also worsen metabolic conditions like insulin resistance or laminitis. While oranges are low-sugar treats, one fruit contains up to 12 grams of sugar.

If you must feed oranges to horses with such conditions, do it in moderation, preferably one piece per treat instead of two.

How to Prepare Oranges for Horses

peeled and cut oranges

Can horses eat oranges safely? Yes, but you can’t just hand a whole orange to a horse and call it a day.

If left to eat the oranges alone, they would grasp the whole orange, choking them.

Like apples, you need to cut the orange into small chunks.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Rinse the oranges in clean water to remove dirt and pesticides
  • Peel and cut them into small slices. If your horse eats orange peels, you don’t have to remove them
  • Feed the horse with the pieces of the sliced flesh 
  • To add some gist to the treats, you can freeze the pieces and serve the slices one at a time
  • Alternatively, mix the orange slices with bran mash and serve them

On the same note, remember the number of slices you are serving. Large quantities can cause problems because horses have sensitive digestive systems.

Also, oranges contain 10g of sugar per 100g serving. 

While this amount is ideal for healthy horses, overfeeding your horse can cause colic.

Veterinarians and equine nutritionists recommend feeding horses with no more than two oranges a week. 

Also, if your horse has health problems like insulin resistance, it’s best to discuss with your veterinarian before feeding oranges. 

Related: Do Horses Eat Apples?


Can Horses Eat Citrus?

By now, it’s clear that citrus fruits should be a part of regular horse feed. A wide variety of citrus fruits are healthy and oranges are excellent examples as they are nutritious. 
The only caveat is that you must feed them in moderation because excessive consumption can lead to horse health care problems; 1-2 oranges a week are enough.

Can Horses Drink Orange Juice?

Orange juice makes another healthy treat for your horse. Be sure to serve it in moderation to avoid digestion problems and triggering conditions like Hyperkalemic periodic paralysis. 
Note, we’re talking about orange juice made from fresh fruits, not soft drinks. Most soft drinks contain propylene glycol, which causes diarrhea, colic, and respiratory problems.

Can Horses Eat Orange Seeds?

Yes, horses can eat orange seeds. They don’t contain harmful compounds, and their tiny size means your horse won’t choke when eating them. 
What’s more, orange seeds are potent in antioxidants and energy. They contain linoleic, palmitic, and oleic acids that facilitate energy storage for extended periods.


Oranges make an excellent treat for horses. Not only are they great sources of vitamins, but they also have antioxidant properties. 

Additionally, horses love the sweet flavor of fresh fruits, making oranges a pretty delightful addition to their otherwise bland diet.

And you don’t have to throw the peels or the seeds away; horses love eating them too. For more information, read our articles about horse health care. 

a cute donkey eating oranges but can horses eat oranges?

“Can horses eat oranges?” What are your thoughts about it? Please share with us!


Salome Njeri has established a successful career offering ghostwriting, copywriting, and blogging services. Her passion is to create meaningful and detailed content that not only educates, but also entertains.

Before she started writing, she got a graduate degree in Economics and Statistics from Kenyatta University, Kenya. After that, she did a couple of clerical jobs just to make ends meet. She now works as a full-time freelance writer.

When she’s not on her computer or tending to her new baby, you’ll likely find her in the kitchen trying out a new recipe.


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