Maintaining Healthy Equine Microbiota

The bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and viruses that colonize the equine gastrointestinal tract, collectively known as the microbiota, play a crucial role in the horse’s health.

The bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and viruses that colonize the equine gastrointestinal tract, collectively known as the microbiota, play a crucial role in the horse’s health. Microbiota is involved in numerous biological processes: regulation of immune homeostasis, metabolic functions, synthesis of vitamins, nutrient uptake, development of pathology, and disease resistance. If the delicate balance of the microbiota is disrupted, typically through some combination of poor diet and stress, a state of dysbiosis develops.

Dysbiosis is known to have broad-reaching effects within the digestive tract and may lead to increased susceptibility to infection, local and systemic inflammatory reactions, and diminished nutrient uptake. Other health effects beyond the gastrointestinal (GI) tract may include respiratory and metabolic disease, and even obesity. In the horse, manifestations of dysbiosis are typically identified within the GI tract itself presenting as gastric and colonic ulcers, diarrhea, colitis, colic, laminitis, and inflammatory bowel diseases.

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