You may be confident that your horse is already a great example of a healthy eater. Most of the time, your horse gets ample turnout to allow it to have access to grass all on its own. You also follow the veterinarian’s deworming schedule to make sure that no parasites can threaten its health. However, with all those careful management practices, your horse may still experience mild stomach ache and what you need to make sure is that it will not happen again by doing everything possible. When this happens, consider ’probiotics’, which help improve your horse’s digestion.
Probiotics means “pro-life or for life”, an opposite to the term antibiotic. Probiotics are formulations containing live cultures of bacteria that help in the restoration of the normal flora in your horse’s gut. This means that these probiotics are actually good microbes that help improve efficiency of digestive function. There are many factors that disrupt the normal flora of the gut and one is the continued administration of antibiotics. In such cases, some veterinarians will recommend the use of probiotics in horses.
Management Practices Influences Equine Digestion
Digestive problems in horses are due to various factors. It helps to have an overview of how the horse really eats before realizing how management practices can be an influencing factor for equine digestion. The horse naturally eats its food in small amounts at a constant rate; they move about freely and take leisurely walks or trots. They also do well in groups. In the typical modern setting, especially for show horses, the animal is kept in stalls for longer periods and they perform workouts on a routine basis. They are also allowed to go idle and after which, they will perform strenuous tasks and then go back to rest in their stables.
Horses in such cases are also given limited access to hay and to compensate for the energy lost during performances or training sessions, they are fed with large grain meals. They are also given dewormers, vaccinations, medications, and are transported to different locations during a show. This kind of lifestyle can be stressful; it is laid out for modern horses but owners also realize how different the lifestyle can be from that of a horse found in the wild. This does not come as a surprise that a horse’s digestive system can be affected negatively by modern management practices.
When to Consider Using Probiotics
Your horse may benefit from probiotics if your horse is an adult who does not have an excellent appetite. Foals may also be given probiotics to improve the function of their digestive system. Horses recovering from surgery or those that have been treated with a course of antibiotics may also benefit from the product. Overall, probiotics may be good for horses that find it hard to put on weight despite the correct amount of feeds given.
How Probiotics May Help Digestion
Probiotics are usually mixed in with the horse’s feed. They introduce good microbes that can be depleted due to modern management practices. When a horse is exposed to stressful events such as transportation, busy schedules, strenuous workouts, and illness, probiotics can be given to improve digestion. As probiotics support the population of good bacteria, the digestive system can function efficiently.
Not enough studies exist on how probiotics can help improve digestion in horses. However, there is no risk associated with administering them, which is why some owners may feel that it is worth a shot and may be a good way to prevent any problems related to equine digestion.
But how do you tell if probiotics are actually working for your horse? It only takes excellent observational skills for one to assess the efficacy of a probiotic supplement. If you observe that your horse has a shiny coat; requires less amounts of feed; or pass out manure that looks like food has been digested properly, it may be said that the probiotics in horses have worked their charm. It only shows that your horse is comfortable with what has been given to him.
Talk to Your Veterinarian
Since no scientific studies prove how effective probiotics are, one should not solely rely on it to treat any digestive disorders. Probiotics are also considered supplements and should be treated as such. It is up to the owner’s discretion if he or she feels and believes that probiotics are good for their horse. But usually, this decision can be influenced after a talk or consultation with a veterinarian.
Not all horses require probiotics to maintain an excellent state of digestive health but it is good to know that such products can be affordable compared to many equine health supplements, plus it does not harm the animal when administered. If your horse is down with nonthreatening digestive problem – and the veterinarian did not make a significant diagnosis worth paying attention to, probiotics could be the solution to help repopulate good microbes that can help improve equine digestive health.