Should I Worry If My Dog Eats Horse Feed?
Although dogs and horses have different nutritional requirements it's generally not an issue if a dog nibbles at the horse feed. But there are exceptions.
Feeding Horses vs. Dogs
An animal's digestive system defines what and how it eats, (except in the unique case of the Giant Panda). Horses are herbivores so their diets are plant-based. For example, the main ingredients in Integrity products are beet pulp, soy hulls, rice bran, soybean meal, wheat bran and flaxseed meal, with select additional ingredients in each blend. There's nothing in the recipe that's harmful to dogs.
But don't be mistaken: Horse feed isn't suitable to be a dog's main source of nutrition. And you don't want your dog to overindulge.
Dogs are carnivores and have a short digestive tract and one small storage compartment—the stomach—which works well with their preference for meat. Horses have a longer digestive system that includes two compartments—the stomach and the cecum. This dual system is ideal for horses because they have to digest a diet that's heavy in carbohydrates and fiber.
What to Expect
You probably won't even notice if your dog has a nibble of horse feed here and there. But, if your dog eats too much, too often he may get gas, upset stomach and loose stools. This happens because foods with high grain and fiber content, such as horse feed, can change the pH in a dog's hindgut. That change can alter the amount of digestive bacteria in the dog's gut and shift it into overdrive.
However, if you notice your dog vomits or has diarrhea after eating horse feed, it may not be what he ate but rather how much he's eaten. Dogs can experience these side effects from overeating anything. So, don't get too worried, especially if you notice the doggy dish is empty too.
When You Need To Be Cautious
As I noted earlier, horse feed generally isn't harmful for dogs. However, when the feed contains non-food items, such as herbs and over-the-counter ingredients or if you top-dress the feed with products, such as dewormer or medication, it is important to prevent your dog from eating any of it.