So many dog owners can’t tell what Prebiotics and Probiotics in dogs. I’ll love us to know exactly what Prebiotics and Probiotics in dogs really means.
WHAT IS PROBIOTICS?
Probiotics are live micro-organisms that live throughout a dog’s body. They can be found in the nasal (nose) and oral cavity (mouth), Gastrointestinal tract (GIT), vagina and even on the skin of dogs/cats. They’re called the “good/friendly bacteria” because they work to keep your dog healthy.
HOW DO PROBIOTICS WORK?
The thing is all dogs/cats naturally have both good and bad bacteria in their gut (GIT), but when the good bacteria is depleted, your dog/cat can fall ill because the bad bacteria, takes advantage of the fact that the good ones are no longer much to stop them, to wreck havoc on the poor dog/cat’s health. So probiotic supplements put this good bacteria (in their millions/billions) back into your dog’s gut to cancel out the actions of these bad guys by inhibiting their growth/multiplication, thereby helping the digestive tract and intestinal organs build back the compromised immune system.
Remember that a dog’s gut is the largest immune organ in their body and contains on average, approximately 70% of their immune cells! That’s why it is very important to give probiotics to them on a regular basis so that their digestive system runs smoothly leading to a healthy, happy, active and full life.
The Beneficial strains of the good guys to look out for are;
°Lactobacillus acidophilus, or L. plantarium (resides in the small intestine), minimizes diarrhea and improves the quality of stool in sensitive dogs.
°Bifidobacterium animalis, B. breve, B. lactis, and/or B. bifidum (all reside in the colon), are the ist colonizers of puppies guts, and are used to treat inflammatory bowel diseases in dogs.
°Enterococcus faecium (resides in the colon), aka “poop strain” because it relieves diarrhea in dogs, fights obesity in dogs/cats and helps puppies maitain their high vaccination titer longer than the average because of their contribution to the production of immunoglobulin A (IgA).
°Bacillus coagulans (resides in the colon), helps resolve diarrhea, weight management, while improving the quality of stool.
WHEN DOES YOUR DOG NEED PROBIOTICS?
Truth is giving your dog/cat(s) a daily dose of probiotics isn’t a bad idea. In fact, it’s the best because prevention is always better than cure. But probiotics are often prescribed to dogs/cats when they’re sick or stressed, which has caused an imbalance between the healthy and disease – causing bacteria.
Signs to always look out for are:
° Stomach cramps
° Smelly Gas/flatulence.
° bad breath.
You can also give to your dogs/cats if they have a history of developing diarrhea when stressed, or if they aren’t getting any in their food.
DOSING PROBIOTICS IN DOGS AND CATS
Probiotics are measured by Colony Forming Units (CFUs), and from studies done, the recommended numbers are usually in the hundreds of millions or higher because the stomach’s acidic nature destroys a lot of them, so the higher the numbers, the better the chances of your dog/cat actually getting the required dose. Especially if your dog/cat is recovering from any gastrointestinal infection.
But, if you’re giving it to boost digestion, it should be given with meals. If otherwise, give between meals to improve their chances of survival. They tend to survive better when given between meals and with copious amounts of water to help dilute the stomach acidity. It can also be given short or long term depending on your Vet’s advice.
CAN ALL DOGS TAKE PROBIOTICS?
Yes they can. Puppies can take probiotics too because it’s absolutely safe to them, in fact if given earlier, it helps support their digestive system and also boosts their immune system.
Pregnant dogs can also take it because it has no side effects.
Sensitive dogs that are prone to different degrees of food allergy can also take it to balance the ratio of the good/bad bacteria in their guts thus eliminating the actions of the bad guys.
All dogs (young and old) can take probiotics seeing that it contains strains of the naturally occuring bacteria in their guts, there is no need to fear or expect any side effect(s) because it is a wellness supplement for dogs and should be treated as such.
Finally, give your dog(s) a probiotic supplement that offers a variety of these beneficial bacterial strains and are in their millions/billions CFUs too.
Nourish these good guys with a prebiotic supplement.
Monitor your dog’s weight, his/her coat condition, energy level and the quality of daily stool for signs that the diet needs to be adjusted in some way.
It’s always all about your dog’s poo. Why?
because it can actually tell you a lot about the health status of your dog, and if they’re coming down with any bacterial infection or not. So always monitor it’s nature, quantity and quality too.
Also note that what works well for some dogs may not benefit another dog in other circumstances so always consult your Vet if your dog isn’t responding to the supplement.
BENEFITS OF A GOOD PROBIOTICS SUPPLEMENT:
° Inhibits the growth and activities of harmful bacteria.
° Reduces allergy symptoms
° Corrects Colon dysbiosis (ratio of the good and bad bacteria in the colon)
° Regulates bowel function
° Improves breath.
° Better Skin and Coat appearance
° Weight management
° Increases Calcium absorption
° Reduces bloating and smelly gas
° Prevents atopic dermatitis in puppies
° Helps relieve Antibiotic associated diarrhea.
° Reduces your frequent visit to your Vet by 20%.
FOOD SOURCES OF PROBIOTICS IN DOGS INCLUDE:
°Unsweetened Yoghurt from unpasteurized milk, °Soft Cheese, °Buttermilk, °Kefir etc.
WHAT ARE PREBIOTICS?
These are non-living, non-digestible food ingredients that promotes the growth of beneficial micro-organisms(Probiotics) in the intestines. They “nourish” probiotics and they do it by selectively stimulating/fertilizing the rapid growth of these probiotics in the intestines thus improving the health status of the host(dogs).
Prebiotics come in 2 forms; Soluble and insoluble fiber, but the most commonly used are the soluble ones eg) FOS (FructoOligoSaccharides), Inulin, Lactulose, Arabinogalactans etc.
Food sources include: Whole grains, peas, soy, fruits, oatmeal, flaxseed, veggies, lentils etc.
WHY SHOULD DOGS BE GIVEN PREBIOTICS?
Because they support the rapid growth of probiotics, and by doing so they help prevent diseases, improve digestion and also nutrient absorption in dogs. Dogs fed with this are less likely to fall ill or develop diarrhea.
Just like probiotics, prebiotics can be given to pregnant dogs, puppies, lactating bitches to enhance immune protection to the puppies etc. But they are highly recommended for dogs with Immune suppressive diseases (eg Parvoviral Enteritis), digestive disorders and also for dogs following Antibiotic therapy.
DOSING PREBIOTICS IN DOGS:
Now dogs given prebiotics included in a probiotic supplement are totally safe but fiber supplements alone (without probiotics) should be given with caution because If given too much, it causes loose stool and smelly flatulence in the unfortunate dogs, it can also lead to the passage a large bulk of feces meaning that your dog didn’t get any nutrient out of the food (s)he ate. So if your dog has a habit of producing large bulk of feces every time, you may need to look into his/her diet.
Read Also; To know all about deworming your dog(s)
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Prebiotics and Probiotics in dogs supplements available includes: