It seems probiotics are all the buzz these days, but many people may not understand exactly what are they and why they can be beneficial for both us and our animals.
Probiotics are a type of bacteria or yeast which promote good health. They’re the good kind of microbes—the kind that keep our digestive systems functioning properly.
It’s unfortunate that many people have come to associate the word bacteria with being bad because this simply isn’t the case. In a world where we’re almost obsessed with using anti-bacterial soaps and cleaners, we’ve forgotten that many types of bacteria are not only helpful, but actually necessary for maintaining good health.
As soon as babies leave the womb, they begin ‘collecting’ bacteria. Some of the mother’s healthy bacteria are passed on to babies through the birth canal and then through breast milk. Over time, more beneficial bacteria make their way to the GI system where they help to balance out any harmful bacteria which may have also taken up residence.
So if these good bacteria find their way to the digestive system shortly after birth, then what’s the problem? Well, a lot unfortunately. Babies born via C-section don’t get the same microbes from the start. And those fed with formula likely have even less beneficial bacteria.
Add to that, a number of other factors which can reduce the number of good bacteria, including the use of antibiotics (which wipe out both beneficial and harmful bacteria), chronic stress, poor nutrition, and even the overuse of NSAID’s (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories).
Illness can more easily arise when the balance of the bacterial population within our GI system is disrupted.
Our animals are exposed to many of the same things that we are, so probiotics can often be beneficial for them as well.
Here are a few benefits of probiotics for our horses and other animals:
- Improve the digestibility of feed;
- Reduce digestive upset which can lead to colic and diarrhea;
- Improve the balance of good bacteria in the gut;
- Assist in reducing inflammation; and
- Promote a healthy immune system.
For horses, specifically, it’s often a good idea to feed probiotics in the following situations:
- After long transport;
- During the busy competition season;
- After an illness or the use of antibiotics;
- For older horses who have trouble maintaining their weight; and
- When transitioning from grass to hay or vice versa.
Here at The Holistic Horse, we not only have probiotics for horses, but also for dogs, cats, goats, and cattle. Our ProGuard Probiotics digestive enzymes work with the gastric juices to start the breakdown process, making feed usable and absorbable, thus protecting the animal against stress and disease.
Our ProGuard Probiotics come in a 1 lb. bag and contain five lactic acid bacteria including Enterococcus faecium, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus plantarum, and Lactobacillus bifidus—not less than 10 million CFU (Colony Forming Units) per gram.
So if your horse or other pet is struggling to stay healthy, consider adding probiotics to your feeding regimen. It might make all the difference!