Shopping for horse gut health supplements can be an interesting process. Given how many options and formulas there are on the market, decision fatigue can quickly kick in and make the experience overwhelming very fast.
For me, shopping usually looks like this: I’ll do some research, peruse the web, hit the literature and make a few decisions, but then the inevitable flood of questions always sends me back down my research-rabbit hole:
- ‘Should I go with the digestive support supplement that has 30 or 60 billion live colony forming units (CFUs) of Saccharomyces cerevisiae?’
- ‘What about this product that measures their probiotics in milligrams and not CFU’s? Are these probiotics still alive and effective?’
- ‘How many digestive enzymes does a normal, healthy horse have and how much do they need?’
Then, once you have gone and bought what seems to be like the perfect horse gut supplement and ‘schlepped it’ to the barn, your horse wants nothing to do with it and flips their feed dish in disgust!
I digress, but you get the point.
This is an all too common story that can easily be simplified.
Here are the top 4 considerations to prioritize while hunting for the perfect supplement that supports your horse’s digestive system.
Step 1: Classify your horse’s risks and stress level
To get started, first and foremost consider your horse’s health, especially factors such as age, life stage and activity/work level.
- Are you growing a weanling?
- Maintaining a beloved geriatric?
- Maybe you are bringing a horse back into condition who had winter off?
- Is your performance horse traveling more and prone to gastric ulcers?
- Does your horse have a finicky hind gut you would like to calm?
Whatever mount you are managing, it is vital during this step to consider things that are irregular to your horse’s daily schedule. These can include but are not limited to: changes in diet, travel status and changes in environment, turnout schedule/partners and more.
Stress will absolutely affect the levels of beneficial bacteria present in a horse’s digestive tract, so these factors must be taken seriously.
Step 2: Address why you want to begin using digestive support supplements
Common reasons many horse owners choose to use equine digestive supplements include to:
- Help maintain gastrointestinal (GI) health
- Support the immune system
- Prevent GI upset in the event of stressors (such as trailering or traveling)
- Assist in healing after a trauma to the GI tract (colic surgery, ulcers, removal of heavy intestinal parasite load, etc.)
- Support weight gain and nutrient absorption
- Aid in amplifying performance
Contemplating the ‘why do I want to use horse supplements’ when shopping is particularly important so you can find the best match for your animal, while also addressing any possible medical concerns.
Before taking what can be an expensive plunge into purchasing digestive health products, it’s a good idea to talk with your vet and make sure your reasoning doesn’t warrant medical attention.
It is always best to ensure that there are no medical contraindications or underlying digestive disorders when supplementing your horse’s diet.
Step 3: Research
Does the product match your horse’s needs and your desired outcomes?
First of all, it is important to understand that not every digestive health product is created equal. Some key ingredients to look for in an equine digestive supplement include:
- Probiotics (at appropriate levels)
- Digestive enzymes for horses, such as amylase, cellulase, protease, and lipase
- Yeast (such as Saccharomyces boulardii)
- Amino Acids (most commonly L-glutamine for digestive tract support)
- Vitamins and minerals
You can always consult with a professional, such as a veterinarian or equine nutritionist, if you have specific questions about your horse’s health and digestive system.
Step 4: Palatability test
The most important aspect of horse supplementation is whether or not they will actually eat the product you have lovingly selected. Form of delivery (top dressed power/granules, oral paste, treat etc.) should be a top consideration when shopping.
Look for a company that believes in their products and offers a 100% horse satisfaction guarantee!
Fortunately, the digestive health shopping process does not have to be as overwhelming as it may first seem. Follow these steps and be sure to check out FullBucket’s Athletic Formula, a comprehensive equine digestive supplement designed for performance horses. This product contains every ingredient to ensure optimal success and gut health for horses!