Without the immune system we die! When the horse’s immune system is not working properly it causes a lot of health problems for the horse and so it is up to us – the owners, trainers, grooms, and horse lovers – to do whatever we can to keep our horses’ immune systems strong.
The immune system’s job is to protect and eliminate external pathogens (bacteria, viruses, yeast, parasites, and allergens) and internal pathogens (cancer cells, toxins, metabolic waste, and damaged cells/tissues).
Approximately 70% of the immune system is surrounding the GI tract, leaving very little to protect the skin, respiratory tract, and all other tissues. An unhealthy GI tract leads to an overloaded stressed immune system that can lose its ability to respond properly when challenged.
When the immune system over responds we see allergies (hives, heaves-COPD), autoimmune diseases, and/or inflamed tissues (laminitis, sore muscles & joints). When the immune system is fatigued and can’t respond, the horse is more prone to all types of infections.
Products that stimulate the immune system are not always beneficial and may be more harmful in some cases. Decreasing immune system stress by healing the GI tract while supporting the immune system and balancing its response is always good. Vaccinating horses with immune problems and over vaccinating can lead to more problems, so be careful and be aware.
“Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food.” Hippocrates, 400 B.C.
Some things you can do to help improve your horse’s immune system are things you would do for yourself, such as improving your horse’s diet by feeding all natural products with no additives. Make sure you read the labels on every feed or supplement that your horse consumes. Also, turn your horse out as much as possible and keep an eye on your horse’s overall attitude, coat and energy level.
This tip was brought to you by KAM Animal Services. KAM’s “Equine Learning Circle” will be expanding on this topic and others twice a month in its FREE webinars. Go to www.kamanimalservices.com to sign up for the January 10th (which will focus on your horse’s digestion and gut health) and January 31st (targeting balanced feed and supplements) webinars, which will conclude with a question and answer session. So, be ready with your nutrition questions.