Can horses drink beer?


You may be asking yourself, can your horse drink beer? And is beer good for horses? The short answer is YES, and the long answer is WHY? Okay, so WHY is not an answer but more like some things to consider. There’s a lot of information out there about horses and this bubbly fermented adult beverage. Some of it’s factual, and some is anecdotal.


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three beer samples in glasses


  • It is usually safe for your horse to have a beer. A singular beer. I say usually because, as we all know, horses can be allergic to a zillion things, and they certainly like to prove us wrong in the most grandiose manner. And you don’t want to spend all of your dollars on a horse stout beer, have them down a six-pack, and then have a reaction.


  • Can horses drink beer to the point of being drunk? Horses have amazing livers that metabolize alcohol much faster than we do. A horse makes an enzyme, alcohol dehydrogenase, that metabolizes alcohol. Alcohol dehydrogenase breaks down the products of fermentation (alcohol) and already exists in massive volumes, as fermentation of hay takes place in the hind gut. Without this enzyme, they would get themselves knock-down drunk from hay alone.


  • Not to mention that they outweigh us a few times over.


  • Most horses like the taste of beer! The hops and yeast are tasty to horses. Some prefer lighter beers, and others prefer darker ales that resemble milkshakes. I personally love a Guiness, and many horses do, too.


Why horses drink beer – not just for anhidrosis


  • Some trainers feed their horses beer, usually a guiness-style beer, after a workout or race. The hypothesis is that beer or ales help with recovery.


  • You can feed beer as a nice treat if your horse likes the taste.


  • Does beer help with dehydration in horses? Well, in people, too much beer causes dehydration. But for horses, the taste may be enough to mix with water to encourage hydration. This is perfect for cold winter days and hot days with gross humidity.


  • Could a beer or two a week help with healthy skin? Maybe? There’s not much science out there supporting this.


  • For some equines with anhidrosis (the failure to sweat) dark beers can help alleviate this condition. Although this is not actually proven scientifically, there’s a lot of anecdotal information out there. This beer option may be more cost-effective than using a supplement for anhidrosis. Of course, with suspected sweating disorders, a visit with your veterinarian is in order. Also, supplements to stimulate sweating may be less expensive than a daily dark beer. 


four beers in a row on a table


Things to consider before giving your horse beer


  • The biggest obstacle to daily beers for your equine partner is likely the cost.


  • Your bank account might get involved, too. I just zipped to the store. A four-pack of beer costs about $15.00, but a five-pound bag of carrots costs $2.50 and lasts longer than six days. And don’t forget that beer is only for people old enough to buy it legally. Your horse can be any age to enjoy it.


  • You may also want to treat your horse with a beer, in which case a nice cup of brew in your horse’s bucket may hit the spot. As adorable as it may seem to train your horse to drink from a can or bottle, this seems like the perfect way to get your vet involved in your beer celebration with an emergency call and some stitches.


  • You don’t need to trail ride to a brewery to give your riding partner a treat, but that might be kinda fun!


Is beer good for horses? Nutritionally speaking?


  • Certainly, there is some nutritional value in feeding beer to your equine buddy.


  • Yeast, a major component of the beer-making process, has additional B vitamins like riboflavin. Probiotics contain yeast, so this ingredient may help with digestive issues – but that’s likely a huge stretch.


  • There may also be some minor boosts and positive nutritional effects, but in tiny volumes, that should not try and supplement or replace your horse’s diet.


  • Your horse won’t get fat from a beer. Let’s say you have a pasture ornament. They will need around 17,000 calories daily to maintain their statuesque duties in your yard. Riding and performance horses need a lot more than that! Beer may have about 125 to 200 per serving. Unless your horse is doing keg stands, chances are the calories won’t make a dent in their waistline.


  • And for show ponies out there, it probably won’t cause a positive drug test, but you can never be too safe.


How much can horses drink beer?


  • Most vets advise no more than one beer a day. That seems to be the best way to keep your pocketbook in check, and not throw your horse’s digestive system into chaos, as it is a diet change.



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