How long your horse lives and how well it serves you largely depends on what it eats.
Food that contains all the essential nutrients in the required amounts will help your horse thrive.
Furthermore, research has found that probiotics can improve a horse's well-being.
This post looks at the top benefits probiotics, and digestive enzymes will provide to your equine.
Read on to learn more
What are probiotics
Probiotics are living microbes (yeast, protozoa, fungi, and bacteria) that enable horses to have a healthy gut by preventing the overgrowth of pathogens or bad microbes.
Maintaining a good microbiome balance promotes faster food digestion and nutrient absorption and boosts a horse's immune system.
Various types of probiotic bacteria are given to horses mainly to support digestion, balance the intestinal microflora and enhance overall gut health.
The most popular strains used are
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
- Lactobacillus fermentum
- Lactobacillus plantarum
- Lactobacillus casei
- Enterococcus faecium
Manufacturers use the above strains of bacteria in making probiotics because they can survive the highly acidic environment inside a horse's stomach.
Additionally, the bacteria aren't affected by digestive enzymes or bile in the intestines. Thus, the healthy bacteria will carry out the intended purpose fully.
The United States Food and Drug Administration body (FDA) classifies probiotic supplements as safe to use.
Biologists conducted extensive research and found no side effects were recorded in horses whose diets included the supplements.
Therefore, you can safely add probiotic supplements to a healthy horse's diet as a preventive measure or to those suffering from digestive issues.
How do probiotics work?
Inside a horse's gut is an immense and diverse microbial population.
Some "good" bacteria organisms help with food digestion and absorption and support a horse's immunity.
On the other hand are, "bad" bacteria naturally present, like C. difficile, salmonella, and E. coli.
Biologists classify the bacteria above as unhealthy because they produce toxins harmful to cells lining the gut and healthy bacteria.
Apart from producing toxins, these pathogenic microbes may also cause inflammation when they attach themselves to the gut lining.
A few pathogenic bacteria won't cause significant health problems, provided the healthy bacteria outnumber them.
However, if conditions inside the gut are unfavorable to the good bacteria, the pathogenic bacteria will quickly invade a horse's gut environment.
As a result of the harmful bacteria infestation, your horse will develop a myriad of health issues.
Studies have found that introducing probiotics into your horse's diet will help boost the growth of healthy bacteria, thus enhancing optimal digestion and intestinal microflora.
Probiotics aid a horse's gut in four primary methods, which are
Probiotic supplements can inactivate or inhibit toxins produced by pathogenic bacteria.
They do so by creating an impenetrable cover that binds before they can negatively impact other vital cells.
Lowering the gut PH
The bad bacteria in a horse's gut require a particular environment to thrive.
Probiotics work by producing substances that alter the intestinal PH, thereby making it inhospitable for pathogenic bacteria.
Such liquids include acetic and lactic acid, which greatly reduce gut PH.
Additionally, probiotics produce enzymes that kill bad bacteria.
Immune cells stimulation
Probiotics supplements can boost a horse's immunity by stimulating white cells close to pathogenic bacteria to produce antibodies.
Doing so slows down pathogenic bacteria growth, thereby preventing diseases.
Furthermore, probiotics contain anti-inflammatory effects that prevent unwarranted immune responses and protect a horse's gut from conditions such as enteritis.
Fighting pathogenic bacteria
Probiotics use competitive exclusion to limit the excessive growth of pathogens.
They bind to particular parts of the intestinal walls and prevent the harmful bacteria from attaching to those sites.
Binding to intestinal walls, probiotic compounds launches beneficial pathways that aid horse cells in producing protective mucous.
Additionally, probiotics support cell division and maturation. An important process, considering intestinal cells have a short life span of only 3 days.
Such cells are regularly replaced by the maturation of cells, which then split or divide.
Benefits of probiotics
The gut impacts up to 75% of a horse's immune system. A well-balanced gastrointestinal tract supports a horse's overall performance and prevents health issues.
Below are some of the top probiotic benefits.
Quickens equine recovery from digestive problems
Studies have found that probiotics enable horses to heal faster from intestinal diseases such as acute enterocolitis (intestinal inflammation)
The supplements do so by triggering mucous production in the intestines, which reduces inflammation and forms a defensive barrier.
Help establish required microbial populations.
Horses undertaking medications like dewormers or antibiotics may have imbalanced microflora, as the drugs will eradicate some of them.
However, by giving such horses probiotics after they complete the medication, the supplement will aid in the re-establishment of the correct bacterial populations.
Improve immune response
Probiotics boost a horse's immunity by facilitating a healthy microbial balance in the gut and preventing pathogenic bacteria from causing inflammation.
Prevents laminitis and ulcers
Horses on a high grain diet can easily develop ulcers or laminitis, which will cause immense pain and shorten a horse's lifespan.
Probiotics prevent the development of such conditions by countering the negative effects a high grain diet causes on microbial flora inside the intestines.
Enables weight gain
Some horses have difficulty gaining weight, no matter how much you feed them. Probiotics can help by fastening digestion and enhancing absorption of primary nutrients.
Factors that may affect a horse's microbial balance
Administering antibiotics like fluoroquinolones, penicillin, and cephalosporins negatively affects the natural bacterial composition in a horse's gut.
Antibiotics can also cause intestinal inflammation, which will lead to issues such as diarrhea and constipation.
Once a horse completes a dose of antibiotics, it usually takes up to thirty days for the microbial composition to return to its former state.
During such a time, pathogenic bacteria like C. difficile or salmonella can take over and cause health issues.
Introducing a probiotic supplement in a horse's diet after completion of the antibiotic will fasten the regeneration of healthy bacteria, thus preventing diseases.
A change in what a horse eats is a common cause of microbial imbalance in the gut.
For instance, transitioning a horse from a foraging diet to a grain-based diet that rapidly ferments sugars and starches will affect the bacterial composition in the intestines.
The shift can interfere with metabolism and lead to weight loss.
Anthelmintic drugs used to eliminate the parasites in your equine gastrointestinal tract may cause gut microflora shifts.
A probiotic greatly reduces the chances of such shifts occurring by introducing more healthy bacteria into the system.
Signs your horse needs probiotics.
If you notice the following symptoms in your equine, it may indicate a microbial imbalance, and you should add probiotic supplements to the horse's diet.
Horses with excessive amounts of "bad" bacteria tend to have slower digestion, which means absorption of fewer nutrients into the body.
Over time the horse will start losing weight and become emaciated.
Poor teeth condition in equines is primarily associated with an imbalance in the gut bacteria.
Rapid heart rate, fever, and difficulty breathing indicate that a horse has infections that may arise due to inflammation caused by the pathogenic bacteria.
Equines with a bacterial gut imbalance will change their behavior and may become hypervigilant, reactive, and less settled.
Dietary factors like high grain foods and lush grass often interfere with the healthy bacteria in the gut, which can cause laminitis due to intestinal inflammation.
Several studies have indicated that when harmful bacteria take over a horse's gut, there will be less liquid flow into the intestines.
After some time, such horses become constipated.
Abdominal discomfort or bloating
When there is a shift in the gut microbial composition, gas build-up might be indicated by discomfort or bloating.
If your horse has recurrent ulcers, it may have more pathogenic bacteria in the intestines than healthy bacteria.
Why choose Probiotic Enhance
Probiotic Enhance has a potent enzyme formula with a unique combination of hemicelluloses like lipase, amylase, and glucoamylase.
These enzymes promote the digestion of plant-based feeds and increase nutrient absorption. Moreover, Probiotic Enhance has no artificial additives.
Other benefits of Probiotic Enhance include
- Reducing bloating
- Supports healthy skin, coat, and hair
- Increasing energy levels
- Supports break down of starch and sugar
To have a healthy and strong horse, you must make probiotic supplements a regular part of the animal's diet.
In addition, ensure you have an equine veterinarian assess your horse's diet to see if it provides all the essential nutrients the horse needs.