Can I Give My Horse Biotin Supplements Designed for Humans?

Find out how biotin might help hoof and haircoat.
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Can I Give My Horse Biotin Supplements Designed for Humans?
Photo: The Horse Staff

Q: I just bought a horse that I have known for about three years. He’s in good shape, but his mane and tail grow really slow and are thin. I’ve read that biotin helps hair growth and a healthy coat, as well as dry hooves, which he gets occasionally. Can I give him biotin that I buy in the grocery store that humans take, or should I give him a biotin supplement formulated for horses? And if it’s okay to use the human supplement, how much should I give him? Thanks!

A: Congratulations on your new horse! Now that the horse is under your care, be sure the diet is balanced. Poor hoof quality and hair coat condition are often symptoms of inadequate or unbalanced nutrition. An equine nutritionist can help you evaluate and balance your horse’s diet.

Biotin has been touted for its benefits to hoof and hair growth. It is a water-soluble B vitamin which plays an important role in hoof and hair growth. The microbes in the horse’s hindgut actually produce biotin; hence, there is no defined dietary intake requirement for biotin for horses. Scientifically controlled studies have reported some mixed results on whether supplementation of biotin is effectual for improving hoof quality. The studies that reported successful results suggest that feeding 15 to 20 milligrams of supplemental biotin per day was effective for improving hoof growth (Buffa et al., 1992; Reilly et al., 1998). There hasn’t been much further study in the past 15 years or so

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Written by:

Nettie Liburt, MS, PhD, PAS, is an equine nutritionist based on Long Island, New York. She is a graduate of Rutgers University, where she studied equine exercise physiology and nutrition. Liburt is a member of the Equine Science Society.

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