Are Horses Killed for Dog Food? 6 Heartbreaking Facts You Should Know

Horses are whimsical creatures that have been part of people’s imagination for a long time already. There is no doubt that they play great roles in humans’ life as work companions, means of transportation, competition partakers, and pets.

As horses engraved a deep spot in people’s hearts, it is really saddening and frustrating to know that they are being killed unkindly to be used in dog food.

How and when did slaughtering horses for pet food started? Does this heartbreaking discovery still happen up until now?

Are Horses Killed For Dog Food?

Yes, horses are killed for dog food.

It might be surprising for you to know that horses are being killed to be used in dog food. It is hard to imagine that these gentle creatures are being fed to other animals.

However, if you are going to look back on previous generations, you will see that they are once a major ingredient not just in dog food, rather in other animal meals as well.

In the 1800s, people in Europe started preparing nutritious meals for their dogs after periods of reproducing them and examining diets that improve canine wellness. The recipes during this period were all cooked at home with typical food ingredients such as vegetables, oatmeal, ox feet, sheep heads, and horse meat.

During the 1920s and 1930s, the commercial pet industry gained great success when horses were no longer the primary means of transportation due to the creation of vehicles. Horses were then used for pet foods that were sold in cans.

As prey animals, horses are meant to be captured and eaten by the predators. This is their important part of the food chain.

Are Slaughtered Horses Really Used For Dog Food?

Yes. Some slaughtered horses are used for dog food.

Have you been to a slaughterhouse? It is, definitely, one terrifying place for animals.

During the 1920s, various pet food businesses were established by slaughterhouses as a place where horse meat can be disposed of. Until the 1940s, horse meat is one of the primary components of pet food.

There are quite a number of pet food manufacturing companies in the United States today known for slaughtering cows and horses for their products. Some of them were even exposed by whistleblowers due to the inhumane treatment of horses before slaughtering.

Slaughtering houses have received lots of animal cruelty accusations. Some claim that the horses being killed are then starved to death, too weak to move and dying. Slaughtered horses are usually foals, pregnant mares, and those that are seriously wounded or blind.

The meat of these horses might be contaminated, most especially those with diseases. This is one of the reasons why they are comparably cheap, being the best meat option for manufacturers that are after making extra big profit.

If you are a dog owner, you will surely choose the healthy food option for your beloved pet. They say horses are healthier and even affordable than others. Will this information convince you to buy dog food brands containing horse meat considering that these equines are also pets?

Is Dog Food Still Made of Horse Meat?

Yes. Some dog food manufacturers are still using horse meat in their products up until now but not informing the consumers about it.

It can be frustrating for horse lovers to know that horse meat is still an ingredient of dog food despite all the controversies and appeals to stop such kind of operation.

Just this year, the US Food and Drug Administration recalled some dog food brands because of salmonella and listeria contamination. These health perils can be ultimately caused by contaminated horse meat.

Aside from using horse meat in dog food, some companies are also using horse bones as dog chews. This is another profitable product since dogs love to bite and play. Given that horse bones are bigger and stronger, these would be a perfect chew for the itching teeth of your puppy and strengthening the bite of your adult dog.

Another quite disturbing information is the fact that skins of horses are actually being sold to zoos as playthings of exotic animals.

Dog food manufacturers are required to list all their products’ ingredients on food labels. If there is a specific source of meat, like chicken or lamb, it should be particularized in the ingredients.

However, you may sometimes notice terms such as meat meal, animal digest, or animal byproduct. These ingredients are very affordable so you can see them at most in cheaper dog food brands. These are pretty much part of animals that come from different sources that can involve horses.

Although not widely accepted, horse meat is still used by dog food manufacturers because of its health benefits and cheaper price compared to other meats.

Producers are not just revealing it to the public since human consumption of horse meat is not allowed in the United States. This prohibition, certainly, will affect the perceptions of dog owners regarding the components of their pet foods.

Despite various objections, dog food manufacturers are simply not outlawed to use horse meat in their products. Slaughtering of horses in the United States is legal as long as these will be used for pet food manufacturing and not for human consumption.

The Food and Drug Administration regulates the processing of pet food. However, the FDA does not specifically prevent the use of horse meat in dog food products. It is just requiring dog food to be safe, manufactured under clean conditions, with no dangerous ingredients, and labeled accurately.

So, if you are a dog owner who wants the best diet for your pets, you should always look for the ingredients label on the dog food product before actually purchasing it. Horse meat can be dangerous to your dog’s health since lots of chemicals are commonly ingested by slaughtered horses.

You might still be disheartened by the fact that horse meat is one of the major ingredients of dog food up until now. But, you might be interested to know some fascinating details in relation to horses and dog food.

One interesting fact is about the history of the first canned horse meat in the United States. Ken-L Ration introduced the first canned horse meat after World War I. Sadly, this was a way to get rid of the horses, specifically war horses, that are no longer needed since the fighting was over.

Another great piece of information to learn is about the start of horse meat halting in the United States. In 1970, horse meat was no longer allowed to be used in manufacturing pet food which was caused by various food politics and the fact that humans started to develop deep connections with these creatures.

What Horse Meat Used For?

Horse meat is a very famous delicacy in other countries, but not in the United States as it is prohibited for human consumption.

Slaughtering horses for human consumption is not allowed under the United States law.

 The last three slaughterhouses in the country that were all owned by foreigners were closed down in 2007. These facilities had killed and shipped hundreds of thousands of horses exclusively for human consumption.

Eating horse meat is prohibited since these equine creatures are not basically raised to be food, unlike other animals.

Aside from being a great companion, eating horse meat may be dangerous to one’s health due to various chemicals ingested by the horse to be stronger, focused, and treat injuries or diseases.

In other countries such as Japan, Belgium, Russia, Canada, Iceland, and China, horse meat is part of the traditional menu.

According to the expert culinarians, horse meats are quite similar to beef when it comes to tenderness, meat, and taste but has lesser fats. Horse meat is sweeter and can complement well with mushrooms and other vegetables.

Horse meat is not recommended as food because of dangerous substances that horses consume before slaughter.

Horses are pets, not food that humans commonly eat.

In the previous generation, horses were really part of people’s diet, but later on, prohibited to be slaughtered and served as food.

They play various significant roles in humans’ lives, making them one of the most admired animals in history.

Aside from the fact that horses are pets that are not meant to be eaten since some treat them as part of their families, horse meat might bring harm to those who will eat it.

Since horses are not raised as food, they consume various chemicals frequently to help them be stronger, healthier, and be more competent for their tasks.

Unlike other animals that are meant as food, horses are not maintained within specific standards ensuring them to be safe for consumption.

Racehorses are commonly given illegal drugs such as stimulants since they need to be perfectly fit as they join competitions. These drugs have adverse effects on their body, causing them to get ill.

You can never choose the horse meat that you will buy as you will not know whether it comes from a healthy or dying horse.

It is important to take note that slaughtered horses are commonly those tagged as useless. They may be severely injured, deadly sick, blind, abandoned, mares, and foals.


American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. (2021). Horse slaughter. ASPCA.

NFM Staff. (2017, May 24). Secret shopper: Is there horse meat in my pet food? New Hope Network.

Steves Real Food. (2018, July 24). Pet food; Then and now.

The Humane Society of the United States. (2020, January 29). U.S. house members hear compelling testimony on bills to protect horses from drugging, slaughter. A Humane World.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2020, February 7). Information on marketing a pet food product.

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