Can Horses Eat Lettuce? Benefits, Risks, and Considerations

By Zunnun Ahmed •  Updated: 04/30/23 •  11 min read

With the plant-based diet, horses have a wide range of vegetables to choose from! Being almost always hungry, horses basically eat everything you offer them. However, that is not a wise thing to do. You have to ensure that you provide your horse with the best diet to ensure their good health.

When it comes to feeding horses, you might wonder, can horses eat lettuce? Vegetables like lettuce, celery, carrots, etc., are suitable for your horse’s diet. At the same time, it’s important to note that cruciferous vegetables can be considered poison for horses.

Now, let’s delve into our main topic: What are the benefits of feeding lettuce to horses? There are numerous reasons why lettuce can contribute significantly to a horse’s diet. We will uncover the complete story in this article, so keep reading to learn more.


What is lettuce?

I know most of you are already aware of what lettuce is. But since we are here for a broad demonstration, let’s get introduced to this vegetable once again. Lettuce is a leafy green vegetable that belongs to the aster family. It is crunchy and comes in a lot of varieties. 

Each variety has different levels of nutrients. Each type of lettuce contains different vitamins and minerals. It grows above the ground and is most abundant in water. It is also a great source of several vitamins and minerals.

Lettuce for horse

Can horses have lettuce?

Absolutely! Horses can eat lettuce, in fact, it is a very healthy choice because lettuce is almost 96% water. The water content helps the horse to remain hydrated and it does not even cause issues with cholesterol. 

The nutrient in lettuce varies according to type and species. However, almost all of them are safe for a horse to eat. They are not good enough to be a major part of the diet because of their low calories. 

Horses are unlikely to get energy and require calories from eating just lettuce. Therefore, lettuce is only great as an occasional snack or treat. It does not possess the capabilities of being on the main diet chart.

Do horses like lettuce?

While horses primarily consume grass and hay, they can eat lettuce in moderation. However, lettuce should be given as a treat and not as a substantial part of their diet.

Horses may enjoy the crisp texture and water content of lettuce, but it should not replace their essential nutritional needs.

Types of lettuce

There are a variety of lettuce types, each of which differs in its way according to nutrition, looks, and tastes. Let’s have a look at the types of lettuce available for horses, along with their nutritional values.

Type of lettuceNutrient value
Iceberg Contains Vitamin C and Vitamin K
Cress Full of Vitamins A, C, and K
RomaineRich in Vitamins C and K and folate
Mizuna (has a bitter taste)Rich in Vitamins A, C, and K. Also contains phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
Little GemContains loads of  Vitamins A, B6, and C, along with iron and copper.
BostonHas Vitamins A, C, and K
Oak leafContains Vitamin A, B, C, and D
ButterheadThis one contains Vitamins B, C, and K. Also present, are potassium and calcium.
TatsoiIt is abundant in Beta-carotene, folate, calcium, and phytonutrients
Belgian EndiveThis one is jam-packed with loads of Vitamin K and also has other lettuce nutrients
ArugulaA source of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. Also the highest in Vitamins A and K.
BibbSource of Vitamins A, C, and K. Also has calcium, iron, and folate
RadicchioVery rich in Vitamin K and fiber
MacheContains loads of  Vitamins A, B6, C, along with iron and copper.

Related: Discover the untold secrets of feeding horses maple syrup – from boosting immune function to promoting joint health. Unleash their full potential with this surprising ingredient.

The nutritional value of lettuce

The nutritional or health advantages of lettuce are primarily a result of its vitamin content. The values depend and vary on the different types of lettuce. 

However, vitamin content is present in almost all types of lettuce. 

It is also rich in fiber. So, lettuce is easy to digest and has very little sugar content. 

Nevertheless, lettuce does not contain too many beneficial nutrients compared to other vegetables and fruits. So, it might not be enough to satisfy your horse’s nutritional needs. 

But, on the brighter side, the high water content in lettuce will keep your horse hydrated and happy.

lettuce for horses

Potential benefits of feeding lettuce to horses

There are numerous benefits of feeding lettuce to horses. The high water and vitamin values make lettuce a great treat for your horse. Let’s check out the potential benefits of lettuce for equines.

Keeps hydrated

Since lettuce is abundant in water (96%), it will keep your horse comfortable and hydrated on hot days. 

Good for digestion

For the critical and sensitive digestive system of horses, lettuce is a relief because it contains fiber. This improves their digestive system.

Improves eyesight

Lettuce has Vitamin A which helps enhance the eyesight of horses. Vitamin A also improves the reproductive system and immune system in horses. 

There are other benefits like strengthening bones and bringing relaxation to your horse. One important thing to mention is that

Risks of feeding lettuce to horses

There is no serious concern regarding feeding horses lettuce. However, you need to do it in moderation. A lot of anything is not good for your horse. 

Additionally, lettuce does not have enough nutritional value to keep your horse healthy. It is low in calories and is not capable of providing your horse with sufficient energy. You need to give it a balanced diet. Lettuce can be great for extra treats, but your horse needs solid nutrients and a solid diet.

What really risks your horse’s health are cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, Brussels sprouts, etc. We have already established that horses have a sensitive digestive system. 

These veggies produce a lot of intestinal gas which is not safe for creatures who do not even burp. These vegetables can be life-threatening for your horse. 

But, not to worry, because lettuce is absolutely SAFE for your horse. The only risk you may run is giving too much of it. So, maintain moderation and keep your beloved animal safe.

Related: Curious why horses can’t eat cauliflower? Learn about the nutritional and digestive issues that make it unsafe, and discover what alternatives are available.

How to safely feed lettuce to horses?

Maintaining hygiene is very important to keep your horses healthy and free from sickness. Chemicals and pesticides are extremely toxic for horses. 

Therefore, before feeding lettuce to your horse, you need to wash them properly and ensure that the vegetable is free from all germs, chemicals, and toxic substances.

What to look for when feeding lettuce?

Different types of lettuce have different nutrient values. So, when you provide your horse with lettuce, make sure you choose the type that will benefit the horse the most. 

The nutritional values of the different types of lettuce have been listed above in this article. Make sure you check out the list before you feed lettuce to your hungry pal.

How can I tell if my horse enjoys eating lettuce?

Horses are hungry creatures. They generally enjoy eating anything. However, if you still want to figure out what your horse absolutely loves to eat, you can carry out a food preference test. 

Here, you place several food items before your horse and observe which one it prefers the most. But generally speaking, horses do absolutely enjoy eating lettuce. 

If, by chance, your horse doesn’t want lettuce, you may trust it to royally ignore the veggie altogether. But that is rare!

How should lettuce be prepared and served to horses?

There is no definite way of serving lettuce to your horse. You might as well feed it with your hands. The only thing you will want to make sure of is that the vegetable is washed and cleaned properly. 

Now, I know it goes without saying, but you do not need to use soap to wash the vegetables. Simply rinse it with water, and you will be good to go!

What other vegetables horse can eat?

If you’re wondering, “Can horses safely eat Brussels sprouts?” the answer is yes, they can, but it’s important to feed them in moderation. In addition to Brussels sprouts, there are plenty of other healthy vegetables you can consider for your horse’s diet.

Spinach is a great option, as it is packed with vitamins and minerals such as iron and Vitamin K. Kale is another excellent choice, containing high levels of Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and calcium. Other leafy greens like arugula, watercress, and endive are also healthy options for your equine friend.

But don’t limit yourself to just leafy greens! Carrots, green beets, and sweet potatoes are also great options for your horse’s diet. These vegetables are packed with nutrients and can be given to your horse as treats or as part of their regular diet. Just make sure to introduce new foods slowly and in small quantities to avoid any digestive upset.

Remember, while vegetables can be a healthy addition to your horse’s diet, they should never replace the main source of their nutrition. Always consult with your veterinarian to ensure your horse is getting the proper balance of nutrients for their age, size, and activity level.


What types of lettuce are safe for horses to eat?

All types of lettuce are safe for horses to feed on. However, iceberg lettuce has the lowest nutritional value.

Can feeding horses too much lettuce be harmful?

Yes! Overdoing anything is basically bad. You want your horse to have a healthy, balanced diet. Lettuce can be given as extra treats in moderation. Neither is it enough to provide your horse with adequate nutrients nor is it healthy to give the horse loads and loads of treats.

Should lettuce be included as a regular part of a horse’s diet?

Whether it ‘should’ be or not is not objective. However, lettuce can be a regular part of a horse’s diet. It is good for digestion and hydration. It can keep your horse happy.

Can horses eat iceberg lettuce?

They can. Iceberg lettuce is not toxic or anything for horses. They can comfortably feed on it. However, iceberg lettuce is the least nutritious lettuce of all types. So, it is better if you give your horse some other type of lettuce.

Can horses eat romaine lettuce

Yes, horses can eat romaine lettuce as a treat. However, it should be fed in moderation and chopped into small pieces to prevent choking. Remember to introduce new foods gradually to avoid digestive issues.


In conclusion, when it comes to the question of whether horses can eat lettuce, it’s clear that while lettuce does contribute some vitamins and minerals, it falls short of meeting the calorie and nutrient requirements essential for your horse’s health. While incorporating lettuce can add a touch of nutritional variety to their diet, it cannot assume a primary role in providing all-around sustenance.

To put it succinctly, lettuce does bring certain benefits and can serve as an occasional, enjoyable treat. However, to ensure a truly well-balanced diet, it’s imperative to introduce a diverse range of other appropriate foods that comprehensively fulfill your horse’s nutritional demands.

Zunnun Ahmed

We are a group of horse enthusiasts. We want to provide information and tips to help others learn more about horses, how to care for them, and how to enjoy them.

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