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The horse’s immune system, as in humans, allows it to defend itself against pathogens (viruses, fungi, parasites, bacteria, etc.). If one of these agents intrudes, there are two types of immune system responses: innate immune response, which is immediate, and adaptive immune response, which occurs later. The innate immune response uses macrophages which attack the pathogen by stopping its multiplication and eliminating it. This macrophage action is visible externally as an inflammatory reaction, such as swelling, heat, or pain. The adaptive immune response occurs when the innate immune response fails to eliminate the pathogen. Immune agents, containing antibodies and T and B lymphocytes, will then attack the pathogen and remember it, making it easier to fight it in the event of a subsequent contamination.
It is therefore essential that the horse’s immune system is healthy to protect it from the dangers present in its environment.
To help your horse maintain its immune system, you need to take precautions. Among other things, a suitable diet in correct quantities is essential for correct immune system functioning. As over 70% of immune cells are located in the horse’s digestive tract, it is very important to protect your horse’s intestinal flora. Your horse’s diet must contain all the micronutrients essential for correct digestive system functioning, such as antioxidants, prebiotics and/or probiotics, fatty acids (such as omega 3), vitamins (A, B, C, D and E), iron, and selenium. The role of antioxidants is to protect the body from free radicals and therefore prevent many diseases. Probiotics are micro-organisms that strengthen the horse’s natural defences by stimulating immune cells located in the intestine. Fatty acids control the immune system to prevent it from becoming overactive and stimulate lymphocyte production.
As in humans, younger and older horses have weaker immune systems, so it is important to pay special attention to them. Royal Horse B150 and B100 horse feed is ideal for foals as well as pregnant mares and broodmares, providing them with prebiotics, such as MOS (Mannan-oligosaccharides) – as in all Royal Horse feed, L-carnitine, and omega 3. Competition horses are also put under great strain and, as athletes, it is essential that their immune system can protect them against any pathogen attack. For these horses, Royal Horse H200, H250, and H350 horse feed (flaked feed) support muscular exertion, guarantee good intestinal transit, and supply all the vitamins, trace elements, and prebiotics needed to keep them healthy.
To keep your horse healthy, there are other things you should do. Protect your horse from the cold and humidity in a calm environment to avoid any sources of stress, and you should also regularly check the good hygiene of buildings, mangers, and drinkers. Also check that its vaccines are up to date to protect it from the most dangerous diseases.