Humans and animals normally have billions of beneficial yeast and bacteria living in their intestine that help process food into energy and discourage the growth of disease-causing bacteria. Historically, wild horses grazed and obtained the proper amount and variety of beneficial microorganisms from the various green plants and grasses they consumed. It is believed that today's domestic horses do not ingest enough of these organisms from their environments to reseed their intestines, causing a gradual decline that can put the horse at risk for a number of digestive and immune system problems. That is why many owners choose to supplement. Probiotics are thought to:
Probiotics are often recommended for:
Common organisms in equine probiotic products include:
Yogurt is an example of a food that contains some of these organisms. Supplements are available that contain large numbers of these organisms. Very large numbers (hundreds of billions) of these beneficial microorganisms are needed to provide a benefit to the horse.
Because probiotics contain living organisms, storage of the product is important. They must be stored in a cool place; refrigeration is necessary for some products. Be sure to use the product before any expiration date included on the label.
Mannan oligosaccharides (MOS) are a type of prebiotic made of more complex sugars commonly found in the cell walls of yeast. MOS may prevent harmful bacteria from growing by binding them and carrying them out of the horse's body. MOS may also increase antibody levels in the milk of mares. MOS are commonly used in animal feed to improve digestibility and support gastrointestinal health.
A synbiotic is a product that contains both prebiotics and probiotics. When your horse has had problems with diarrhea, is under stress, has recently been treated with antibiotics, has had difficulty maintaining weight, or suffers from allergies, we recommend supplementation with probiotics and prebiotics. We also recommend digestive supplements for administration after worming, to get the gut bacteria back into balance.
A word about psyllium: