Yesterday I talked about the article in The Horse on worms in horses and the same issue had a great article on pre and probiotics. Anyone who has followed my holistic methods knows how strongly I feel about feeding a horse these products on a regular basis. In the past most articles I read suggested probiotics probably did no harm but suggested without research there was no reason to believe they helped. Even though the article states there is still not much research I guess the overwhelming clinical benefits are finally being acknowledged.
The article starts out talking about how we are seeing commercials on television promoting healthy bacteria for people in the form of yogurt. I am very excited to see these commercials because as a society we can improve our own health tremendously by supporting our digestion. I have used the bluegreen algae products for over 15 years and feel my health now is far superior to what it was 20 years ago. This has been especially true in regard to my allergies and susceptibility to respiratory infections.
Feeding the horse probiotics on a daily basis helps stabilize his hind gut. Any stress such as trailering, a vigorous training session, weather changes or change in feed can disrupt the balance of good and bad bacteria in the horse’s hind gut leading to poor digestion or even colic or laminitis. High grain diets are also very hard on the normal hind gut flora.
Prebiotics are also discussed and some people feel if you feed a horse prebiotics you don’t need probiotics. Prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients that stimulate growth and activity of good bacteria. Basically, prebiotics feed the bacteria. Some research suggests that prebiotics have other benefits such as creating an environment in the gut that is hostile to pathogenic bacteria and creating a barrier on the lining of the intestine that prevents pathogens from adhering. My philosophy has always been to feed both prebiotics and probiotics to get the maximum benefits.
The article rightly mentions that not all products which claim to contain probiotics actually have enough numbers of live bacteria to make a difference. The use of pre and probiotics in horse supplements and feeds is not well regulated so it is best to go with a product that has a track record. I like the packets of algae, probiotics and enzymes and powdered algae blend. Other good products include Fastrack, KLPP, Probi. The last two are prebiotics only so you may want to use additional probiotic products along with them. I have had a few horses that did better on prebiotics alone so consider this if your horse is still having digestive challenges.
I am very pleased to see the mainstream acceptance of pre and probiotics. More horses will have the opportunity to be healthier in my opinion when these products are used regularly. Madalyn