Published: January 2019 | Updated: September 2022
Antibiotics Kill ALL Bacteria - Bad & Good...
An antibiotic is defined as a medicine (such as penicillin or its derivatives) that inhibits the growth of, or destroys, microorganisms.
And when your horse has a bad bacterial infection, you’re glad that antibiotics were discovered.
Unless you’re a new horse owner, chances are that at one point or another, your horse has been on a course of antibiotics.
Simply stated, horses get hurt. They step on nails, rip their skin on branches, fencing and other obstacles, and they get bitten by other horses.
When these things happen, infections can occur. And, when infections occur in our horses, we reach for antibiotics.
However, this often life-saving miracle does the job without discrimination - it destroys both good and bad bacteria. This can throw off the natural balance of the equine microbiome, or gut flora.
What that means is that an antibiotic doesn’t just target the bacteria that can cause a harmful infection; it can also work against the beneficial bacteria, which can negatively impact your horse's gut health.
Signs of an Imbalance Between Bad and Good Gut Microbes
- Your horse gets diarrhea.
- Your horse is showing signs of digestive discomfort, such as colic, ulcers, bloating or constipation.
- Lethargy and resistance to training.
- Your horse’s behavior seems to be odd. Maybe they seem unsettled, more reactive or spooky than normal.
- You have a hard time managing your horse’s weight. Either it is difficult for them to gain weight or very challenging for them to lose weight.
All of these situations point to a time when your horse needs probiotics: a supplement that stimulates the growth of microorganisms, especially those with beneficial properties (such as those of the intestinal flora).
Modern research methods and more focus on the science of microorganisms in maintaining a healthy horse digestive tract are revealing some really amazing things.
They’ve discovered that the microbiome, the protective barrier of organisms that all mammals have floating on top of their skin in their GI tract, is WAY more important, not only to gut health, but to overall health than was ever imagined.
In fact, the gut microbiome may account for up to 70%-80% of the total equine immune system!
So when the natural balance of the equine microbiome is thrown off by antibiotic use, boosting it with a probiotic will help decrease the chance of horse diarrhea or the development of any other issues associated with a negative change in the microbiome.
If My Horse Has Been On Antibiotics, When Should I Start Using Probiotics?
Be cautious when choosing a probiotic to be used simultaneously with antibiotics. Most probiotics on the market use bacterial strains. These strains cannot survive during antibiotic use.
FullBucket's equine probiotics use a yeast-based strain, called Saccharomyces boulardii (S. boulardii). As yeast, the antibiotic you’re giving your horse does not have an adverse effect on the probiotic.
Not only is Saccharomyces boulardii the most clinically studied and proven strain of probiotic, but its ability to help fight antibiotic-associated diarrhea is well documented. S. boulardii has been shown to help in two specific ways, when your horse is on a course of antibiotics:
- This yeast has been shown to inhibit the overgrowth of bad bacteria during antibiotic treatment and may reduce the risk of antibiotic-associated diarrhea by up to 20%.
- S. boulardii also improves rebound establishment of healthy microflora following the completion of antibiotic treatment without altering the effectiveness of common antibiotics.
Are Probiotics For Horses Helpful With Anything Else Or Just Diarrhea Caused By Antibiotics?
You’ve probably seen advertisements on television, in magazines or online that tout probiotic yogurt to help with your digestion.
Probiotics work in the same way for your horse.
Probiotics provide a healthy medium for the good bacteria in your horse’s gut.
And, creates an environment that is considerably less hospitable to harmful bacteria growth.
This means that the beneficial bacteria in the hindgut continue to flourish, while the antibiotics continue to work on the harmful bacteria.
Once again, Saccharomyces boulardii, the yeast-based strain of probiotic used as FullBucket's core probiotic, promotes the growth of good gut microbiota.
This strain of yeast has been studied extensively and has been shown to improve digestion and your horse’s ability to get nutrients out of the expensive feed you’re scooping out.
This yeast is particularly beneficial for senior horses needing additional help maintaining weight because they have lost some of their ability to process food and absorb certain essential nutrients in their large intestine.
The Final Word On Using Probiotics With Antibiotics
If your horse is on a course of antibiotics, you want to protect the beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract, so you should offer a probiotic as a supplement.
The probiotic should also be continued once the horse is no longer taking the antibiotic.
For that matter, probiotics can help your horse’s overall health even in less difficult circumstances, but when a course of antibiotics is being administered or has just been discontinued, use of a probiotic supplement is more important than ever.
The best probiotic to use with antibiotics is Saccharomyces boulardii which will remain effective and alive during treatment and help protect your horse’s gut health during stressful times.