What Can a Prebiotic Do for Your Horse?

Nutrition : General Nutrition

Nutrition : Ingredients & Nutrients

Kelly Vineyard, M.S., Ph.D.

Senior Nutritionist, Equine Technical Solutions

Probiotics, prebiotics, enzymes, gut health, microflora and microbiomes. Horse health terminology can be complex, especially when it comes to horse feeds and supplements including probiotics and prebiotics.

Have you ever wondered what these ingredients are doing for your horse?

What are probiotics for horses?

Probiotics, also known as direct-fed microbials, are ingredients that deliver live bacteria to your horse’s digestive tract. Ideally, the bacteria colonize the digestive tract and help improve your horse’s overall health and digestion. But it’s important to remember there are countless strains of microbes living in your horse’s digestive tract, and it’s difficult to tell which probiotics for horses are beneficial.

Some probiotics for horses can even be dangerous. A 2005 study by Weese and Rousseau showed that specific probiotics caused diarrhea and clinical disease in foals. Purina continues to investigate and research the use of probiotics in horses. At this point, we have not identified the best strains and supplementation levels for a positive benefit to the horse.

However, prebiotics have proven promising during research.

What are prebiotics for horses? 

Prebiotics are ingredients that promote the health and growth of microorganisms already living in your horse’s digestive tract. Prebiotics essentially act as a food source for your horse’s existing gut microbes. Unlike probiotics, prebiotics for horses do not introduce new bacteria to the digestive tract.

There are many kinds of prebiotics. Prebiotics come from numerous sources and interact with your horse’s gut flora and intestinal lining in different ways. Team Purina and University of Kentucky research teams worked together to study a specific type of yeast-derived prebiotic called ActivAge®.

What is Purina’s ActivAge® prebiotic?

When horses start to age, inflammation may increase and immune function can decline. ActivAge® is a proprietary, yeast-derived prebiotic scientifically proven to support the immune system of aging horses. In addition to promoting a balanced gut microflora, ActiveAge supports the response to flu vaccinations and overall immune function in senior horses.  

ActivAge® is derived from a multi-stage fermentation process that produces beneficial metabolites containing vitamins, minerals, amino acids and antioxidants. It’s also heat-stable and can withstand the stresses and temperature changes in the feed manufacturing process, something that can be damaging to many pre and probiotic additives.

Learn more about senior horse health and ways Equine Senior® and Equine Senior Active® horse feeds with ActivAge® prebiotic can help senior horses thrive throughout the aging process.