It’s Robo again, from FullBucket. I wanted to share answers to some common questions we’re asked on a regular basis about probiotics and their health benefits.

Probiotics are becoming very popular in human health. It's rare to turn on a cable tv program and not see an ad or program about their benefits. 

However, there is a lot of mis-information floating aroundout there. 

Horses, as you probably know, are all very unique. Because of this we get an amazing variety of questions regarding gut health issues and how to optimize the GI tract.

The questions and answers are applicable to many situations so I thought I’d share a few key points.

What is a probiotic? Is it a bacteria? Is it yogurt?
Probiotics are microorganisms that are believed to provide health benefits when consumed.

They can be bacteria or yeast - however, the scientific medical community agrees that yeast based probiotic has more benefits and stands harsh environments better.

Yogurt does contain bacterial cultures but scientific evidence is unclear about whether it can make it past the harsh environment of the stomach acid and intestines.

Scientific studies show that we can modify the “flora” in our bodies by increasing the number of beneficial microbes.

How does a probiotic help my horse?
We use probiotics to help stabilize the gut and provide support for the horse’s natural microbiome (the biological "soup" that lives in your horses belly 24/7).

Essentially we consider our probiotic to be the National Guard in your horse’s belly. They hold down the fort until the natural fighting troops can get on their feet.

We do not advocate loading the gut up with foreign microbes. Every body has a different mixture that is unique to them, kind of like a thumbprint.

Our core probiotic, S. boulardii, is really good at this. It’s a yeast strain so it can be used during antibiotic treatment. And, it eventually leaves the body with no overgrowth affects.

Most of the scientific evidence available on probiotics is in regard to diarrhea control and this is why we originally made FullBucket – as a natural, healthy way to stabilize an out-of-control system.

The vast benefits of probiotics are still being researched, but the list of claims is impressive.

Some of these beneficial claims include:

• Decrease of potentially pathogenic gastro-intestinal microorganisms;
• Reduction of gastro-intestinal discomfort;
• Strengthening of the immune system;
• Improvement of the skin's function;
• Improvement of bowel regularity;
• Strengthening of the resistance to cedar pollen allergens;
• Decrease in body pathogens;
• Reduction of flatulence and bloating;
• Protection of DNA;
• Protection of proteins and lipids from oxidative damage; and
• Maintaining of individual intestinal microbiota in subjects receiving antibiotic treatment.

As the evidence becomes clearer regarding the different strains of probiotic and their positive influence on horse health, we will incorporate them.

What is a prebiotic and why do you include it?
Prebiotics are essentially “food” for the microbes. While S. boulardii is holding the enemies back, we bring in the prebiotics to feed the soldiers and help them get back on their feet and into the battle.

Do I need to use FullBucket probiotic everyday?
The honest answer is no.

We don’t believe in supplementing any animal just for the sake of supplementing. If your horse grazes freely 24/7 and is under no herd, climatic or training stress.

If your veterinarian recommended FullBucket or a GI supplement in general, then yes your horse obviously needs to be on it.

Or if your horse is showing any sign of discomfort or inconsistencies such as loose or diarrhea stool, then you may want to consider FullBucket probiotic on a consistent basis.

If you're horse is higher risk such as a performance horse, you should try our Athletic Formula. It's purpose is to optimize the gut for overall health on a continuous basis.

If the problems still persist, you really should see a veterinarian.

How do I know if my horse needs FullBucket probiotic?
Horses can’t tell you if they have a bellyache or other GI discomfort. However, if you know what to look for, there are many telltale signs. Here are a few:

Loose stool or Diarrhea – a healthy looking stool doesn’t necessarily mean that your horse is healthy, however loose stool or diarrhea stool is a definite sign that something is wrong. A healthy horse on the proper diet has a firm apple with little or no water discharge.
Lethargy or Low Energy – If you notice the energy level drop you will want to pay attention to other key markers.
Belly kicking and tail swishing – A horse with a belly-ache will stomp, kick and swish their tail excessively.
Rolling – Excessive rolling can be a warning sign that your horse is in pain. Rolling can cause the gut to twist and then you’ve got major problems.
Lack of appetite – If you notice a drop in the amount of feed your horse is eating, pay attention because this may be  an early warning sign of GI distress.

As always, it’s best to seek advice from your veterinarian and it’s always better to be overly cautious when it comes to the health of your horse.

Until next time, remember to Be Good & Do Good.

Robo, Dr. Rob and Dr. Keith