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What are the Pros and Cons of Equine Probiotics?

By B. Koch
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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Equine probiotics are used to stabilize a horse's digestive system and encourage a stable metabolism. The benefits of probiotics are expected to include a healthier body weight as well as healthier mares and foals. Probiotic supplements are recommended for horses that have suffered illness, experienced mental or physical stress, or had a change in diet. There are no disadvantages to adding probiotics to a horse's diet, although some horses may not need them.

A horse is able to digest nutrients with the aid of microorganisms that live in the gut. These microorganisms help to break down certain foods that otherwise would be very difficult to digest. Occasionally, an imbalance in the levels of these organisms may occur due to factors that favor the production of one type of microorganism over another. The result is digestive upset, such as colic. Probiotics are thought to support the health and maintenance of these microorganisms.

There are a number of situations that may result in a microorganism imbalance in the gut. The main culprit is a sudden change in diet, yet stress is another major cause. Stress may result from illness, travel, or fear. Physical stresses may also impact the digestive system, and equine probiotics are especially recommended for work horses and race horses. They are also recommended for horses that have undergone colon surgery or surgery on another part of the digestive tract.

Adding equine probiotics to a horse's diet may stabilize and improve their digestive health. Even a stress free horse with a stable diet occasionally consumes something out of the ordinary, and probiotics can help to protect from digestive upsets at such a time. By enhancing metabolism and encouraging the absorption of nutrients, probiotics also help food to be digested more efficiently.

Not only are probiotics beneficial for digestive health, there are some indications that equine probiotics may aid horses in other ways. When fed to young horses, probiotics may help to reduce the risk of disease. Also, there are indications that mares that are given probiotics produce more nutritious milk, resulting in healthier foals. Probiotics that are fed to work horses may help these horses to maintain a healthy, stable body weight.

There are few disadvantages to using equine probiotics. Although it is unusual for a healthy, relaxed horse living in a stable environment to need equine probiotics, adding probiotic supplements to a horse's diet cannot cause serious harm. Probiotics are not dangerous, but recommended dosing instructions should always be followed.

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