Probiotics & Digestive Enzymes for Horses
The following is a guest post by Jessica Lynn with Earth Song Ranch.
Natural Horse Health Q&A: Why Are Probiotics & Digestive Enzymes Good for My Horse?
Natural probiotics (and digestive enzymes) for horses are important because 1) They help your horse absorb more of the nutrients they are already receiving in hay, grain and bucket feeds; and 2) They help maintain a healthy gut, which is the basis for a healthy horse. As horses age it is often necessary to add digestive enzymes to their diets because as with most mammals, including us humans, the digestive enzymes slow down production with aging and cannot absorb or digest the same without them.
Why does a healthy gut = a healthy horse? Because the horse’s intestinal/digestive tract is the largest immune organ in its body. Probiotics play a vital role in supporting the intestinal tract – and therefore its immune health – and preventing disease.
Probiotics may help in the prevention of ulcers in horses by helping to balance the pH of the gut, and are also known to help prevent some gas as well as possibly impaction colics. New research is also suggesting that some cases of laminitis, which can lead to founder, are due to an unhealthy gut, which cannot digest the food that goes through it properly.
How It All Works
When a horse starts grinding food with his teeth, his mouth releases salivary enzymes, and thus begins that mouthful’s approximately 100-foot journey through the digestive tract. The food travels down the esophagus, enters the stomach and mixes with digestive juices and enzymes, and billions of good microbes begin their work.
The partially broken-down food then enters the small intestine, where most of the nutrients – soluble carbohydrates, along with minerals, fats and proteins – get absorbed into the bloodstream. Insoluble carbohydrates (which are the fiber) are not so easily digested, as well as any undigested soluble carbohydrates, these then pass to the cecum, the “fermentative vat” and the beginning of the large intestine. A variety of live microbes in the cecum break down the remaining food into a viable usable form including absorbable volatile fatty acids, which the horse uses for energy and nutrients.
Without a strong army of beneficial intestinal bacteria, the food moving from stomach to cecum is not “fermented” properly and some remains undigested. When this undigested food hits the gastro-intestinal tract (large and small intestine) it may lead to colic, bloat, or laminitis and increases the possibility of developing food-related allergic conditions when food is not digested properly and remains in the gut too long.
Probiotics Keep the Intestinal Bacteria Populations Flourishing & Balanced
Supplementing horses with natural probiotics (a variety of strains not just one strain like in the paste type) helps to keep the intestinal bacteria populations flourishing and balanced (as there are good, neutral and bad bacteria that all live in concert in the intestinal tracts of all mammals).
These bacteria can get out of balance quickly when an animal:
- Is stressed
- Has been chemically wormed
- Has had surgery
- Has been on a course of antibiotics
- Has had vaccinations
- Is going through food changes
- Is in competition or being trailered
Each of these can change the balance of the gut flora from stress, undermining the health of the animal.
Which Probiotics Are the Best? Getting the Proper Strength is Key
The strength of probiotics is measured in Colony Forming Units (CFUs) – often cited as:
- CFU – a measure of viable (live) bacteria or fungi
- CFU/mL (colony forming units per milliliter) – used for liquids
- CFU/g (colony forming units per gram) – used for solids
When selecting a natural probiotic with yeast culture – to either reintroduce good bacteria after a round of antibiotics, or just replenish good gut bacteria – it needs to contain 20 billion CFU per serving of multiple strains of horse friendly beneficial bacteria, along with specific digestive enzymes to assure proper digestion begins properly so that the probiotics can do their job as well.
Read more about the horse friendly probiotics and horse friendly digestive enzymes in this Equine Wellness article which goes in to more detail and lists the probiotics and digestive enzymes.
Equine Zyme provides all of the horse friendly probiotics and digestive enzymes necessary to help keep your horse healthy and his immune system boosted! Equine Zyme, Equine Zyme Plus and Canine Wellness (a probiotic/digestive enzyme blend for your dogs) is manufactured for Earth Song Ranch by Horse Tech, a company who is a member of the National Animal Supplement Council whose manufacturing practices are some of the highest and safest in the industry. Earth Song Ranch has been in business for 18 years specializing in probiotic/digestive enzyme blends and has worked with holistic vets, microbiologists and veterinarians all over the country.
About the author: Jessica Lynn regularly contributes articles for various national and international horse publications on horse health. She is the owner of Earth Song Ranch, is an Equine Nutritionist, a feed & supplement manufacturer based in Southern California (her products include Equine Zyme and Equine Zyme Plus, and many herbal blends to improve horse health naturally), Earth Song Ranch is also a distributor for many of the HorseTech Products. Jessica has been involved in alternative health care, herbs, homeopathy, and nutrition for almost 40 years, as well as bare foot hoof care movement for over 14 years. Contact Jessica via e-mail at Jessica@earthsongranch.com or phone 951-514-9700. Visit her informative web site at www.earthsongranch.com.
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