Advancement in Senior Horse Nutrition Proven to Fight Age-Related Inflammation and Declines in Immune Function


Better medical and nutritional care is allowing horses to live longer, fuller lives, but with those additional years comes an extended timeframe for senior horses to encounter health complications. To address immune function decline and increased inflammation in aging horses, Purina Animal Nutrition today introduced Equine Senior and Equine Senior Active horse feed with ActivAge prebiotic–a research-backed, proprietary ingredient proven to strengthen immune function, decrease immunosenescence and protect against inflammation related to aging (inflamm-aging).

Two in-depth research projects carried out over three years combined insights from the Purina Animal Nutrition Center with the Gluck Equine Research Center at the University of Kentucky to examine the effects of feeding ActivAge prebiotic on immune function in senior horses. In addition to improving the response to influenza vaccination, the study showed the prebiotic reduced and/or protected against the rise in inflammatory cytokines associated with the aging process.

“The results of this scientifically rigorous and collaborative research shows ActivAge prebiotic does, in fact, protect against problems that affect senior horses, marking a major step forward for the horse industry and for Purina as a company,” said Dr. Kathy Williamson, DVM, veterinary services manager, Purina Animal Nutrition. “For the first time, veterinarians can now recommend a nutritional product that is proven to address the altered immune function of senior horses, hopefully giving them additional, healthy years.”

Methodology and Results

The controlled research involved 62 horses, age 20 to 33. Horses fed Equine Senior horse feed with ActivAge prebiotic had a significantly blunted rise in interferon-gamma (IFN-g) and no significant increase in tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-a) compared to horses consuming the current Equine Senior® horse feed.

Additionally, the study measured the response of aged horses to influenza vaccination. Utilizing hemagglutination-inhibition assay and influenza antibody titers, researchers determined horses fed the diet with ActivAge prebiotic had significantly higher post-vaccination antibody titers than horses being fed Equine Senior without ActivAge prebiotic.

Collectively, the study showed that ActivAge prebiotic was effective in combating immunosenescence and protecting against the effects of inflamm-aging.

“More years with a horse inevitably mean more visits to the veterinarian for horse owners,” said Dr. Kelly Vineyard, research equine nutritionist, Purina Animal Nutrition. “And as horses live longer, having the capability to prescribe a proven solution to protect against the negative effects of aging on immune response is an important tool for veterinarians to maintain senior horse health and extend quality of life.”

To learn more about ActivAge™ prebiotic and the research behind it, visit

Purina Animal Nutrition LLC ( is a national organization serving producers, animal owners and their families through more than 4,700 local cooperatives, independent dealers and other large retailers throughout the United States. With an uncompromising commitment to animal excellence, Purina Animal Nutrition conducts industry-leading R&D initiatives that create and sustain a valued portfolio of complete feeds, supplements, premixes, ingredients and specialty technologies for the livestock and lifestyle animal markets. Species served by Purina Animal Nutrition include both large and small animals, including cattle, horses, swine, chickens, hamsters, gerbils and rabbits. Headquartered in Shoreview, Minn., Purina Animal Nutrition LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Land O’Lakes, Inc.

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