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Equine Health Resource

Transfaunation by Stomach Tube

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Probiotics are live bacteria given orally, intended to populate or repopulate the intestine with beneficial bacteria.

In our veterinary practice, when we want to give a large dose of beneficial bacteria to a horse that has lost its healthy bacteria from whatever cause, we use “transfaunation” instead of commercial probiotics.

We take 3-4 pounds (1.5kg) of fresh manure from a healthy and recently dewormed donor horse. We mix it with water and filter off the solid particulate material. This yields several gallons of “liquor.” We then pump the fresh liquor through a stomach tube into the recipient horse’s stomach.

We use this treatment most commonly in very ill horses with diarrhea (colitis). In these cases, this treatment is one of many multiple treatments. In many cases, the horse is also on or has been given antibiotics.

The rationale for this approach is that a large dose of “good equine intestinal bacteria” taken fresh from a healthy horse is probably superior to small doses of a commercial product. We have no evidence that this is the case, only clinical experience.

I personally feel this treatment is helpful, and I have not seen it cause any problems, so I continue to use it.

Is It working? Timeframe for effect

Theoretically there should be some effect in hours. We think we see improvement in some clinical cases within that time period, but there is little proof that this treatment was responsible.

Questions To Ask My Vet

  • Is there any evidence for treatment effectiveness?
Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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