The health of your pet is, of course, important to every owner. We all take the time to care for our dogs in whatever way we can and it is important to remain educated on the issues that dogs can face in their daily lives.
Due to this, many owners have educated themselves on topics such as probiotics and the positive effect they can have on their dogs’ digestive system.
For those still unaware, it is crucial to learn more about probiotics as well as prebiotics and how they can make all the difference in ensuring your beloved pet has a long, happy life.
The Difference Between Prebiotics and Probiotics In Dogs
To begin, probiotics and prebiotics both draw on the power of beneficial bacteria to strengthen your dog’s systems. Probiotics are typically used after an illness or antibiotic treatment to reintroduce these beneficial bacteria into the dog.
This is important because those bacteria are responsible for properly digesting food, combating illness, and more. Prebiotics, on the other hand, are able to strengthen the beneficial bacteria that is already there. This makes the bacteria less vulnerable to bad bacteria or viruses and it allows them to be much more efficient in their day to day job of digestion.
A common misconception around prebiotics as well as probiotics is that they only aid the digestive system. To a large extent, the digestive system is the focus of these supplements but the digestive system is linked to every other system of the body and, when it is in bad health, the rest of the body is sure to follow (if it hasn’t already).
How Do Dogs Use Prebiotics and Probiotics?
The use of these supplements allows for better digestion which, indirectly and directly, benefits every part of the body, not just the stomach or digestive tract.
Along with the health issues associated with the use of biotics, there are many practical issues which can be solved or at least helped with these supplements. Dogs who experience diarrhea or constipation are very likely to improve with probiotics and prebiotics and this can take a lot of stress away from the average pet owner (and, of course, the dog).
These supplements should be used along with an overall healthy diet and exercise to experience the maximum benefits. Veterinarians can help pet owners understand what is right for their dog and provide further guidance on how we can help keep our pets healthy and happy.
Probiotics and prebiotics are available in many different forms and are actually very easily accessible for most pet owners. While there are many over the counter supplements available (which have usually been formulated to work extremely efficiently), there are just as many natural and low-cost alternatives which many pet owners might already have in their kitchens.
Beet pulp, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes are some of the most efficient prebiotics but bananas and other types of fruit are also sufficient. Generally, pre and probiotics which work for humans also work with dogs and other animals but you should always research what your dog should and should not be eating before introducing anything new to their diet.
As stated before, probiotics and prebiotics are just supplements to your dog’s daily health. It cannot be stated enough that good exercise and overall diet should all be used to improve your pet’s quality of life.
Dogs are naturally very active and that should be reflected in their exercise. Most veterinarians would agree that it is also very beneficial to reflect dogs’ natural lifestyle in feeding and every owner should take that into consideration when they decide what to do with their dogs in terms of nutrition.
We should try to give our pets the ideal lifestyle for them and not try to make them fit our own.
Our dogs are mostly fed a commercial diet which only somewhat reflects their ideal nutritional intake. But recently, innovative dog food brands like Jiminy’s are taking into account your dogs’ natural gut biome that helps with digestion of essential nutrients and provide a better diet for your dog.
Does My Dog Need Prebiotics and Probiotics?
Another important topic in the prebiotic and probiotic trend has been the question of whether or not these supplements are even needed at all. Some have even raised concerns over if these supplements are actually harmful to dogs.
In the end, all dietary advice should be taken with a grain of salt and it is important to research both sides of the argument before coming to a conclusion. Our pets are often considered to be part of the family and their diets deserve the same amount of thought as our own.
A dog’s system of bacteria is very intricate and has evolved over countless years to fix itself or at least remain resilient in the face of many harsh conditions. However, in the modern era of highly processed commercial dog foods, the bacteria in your dog can undergo certain shifts where it is more difficult to balance out.
That is where a minimally processed dog food like Jiminy’s, which has been specially formulated to support a healthy diverse level of gut bacteria can be beneficial to your dog’s digestive health.
How Can I Tell If My Dog Needs Prebiotics or Probiotics?
It is fairly obvious when your dog is experiencing a bacterial imbalance (though the symptoms could also be caused by any number of other issues) and common symptoms include diarrhea, constipation, changes in mood, gas, and excessively bad breath.
If any of these symptoms last for an extended period of time, you should consider taking your pet to the vet but for short term solutions, prebiotics have been proven to work in many cases.
When probiotics are used with prebiotics, they ensure that the bad bacteria that might have been caused by too many prebiotics or any number of other environmental effects, they crowd out the bad bacteria and basically starve them out of existence.
One study on the use of probiotics showed that, when probiotics are used, more beneficial antibodies are found in the feces which indicates that they do work in strengthening the gut lining and overall health of the digestive tract.
In other words, while too much of any good thing can turn for the worse, using a normal amount of probiotics with prebiotics has consistently proven to result in better gut health.
The use of biotic supplements might not be necessary at all times but, especially with older dogs, it is a good idea to always have them ready as a precaution. There is generally no way to know when a random shift in your dog’s bacteria will happen until it has already happened but we can at least fight it once the symptoms show themselves.
Now that it is clear that probiotics have more benefits than harm, many owners might ask what the best option for probiotics is for their particular dog. At the end of the day, it will take a bit of research to understand what any specific case would call for but there are some general guidelines to follow.
Most probiotics are produced from fermented milk and have the bacteria known as lactobacillus. This bacteria can help with gut-related issues but some studies have shown that a large presence of it might be linked with aggression.
These probiotics are generally active for just 24 hours but that can be enough time to kickstart the process for other beneficial bacteria. Another probiotic source is food such as yogurt and fermented vegetables, which harbor these bacteria because they tend to feed on fiber and sugars.
Certain dogs have allergies which might prevent them from properly digesting the common sources of probiotics. A dairy allergy can make it much more difficult to give your dog probiotics because lactic acid is a main source in most of them.
However, it is not nearly impossible to find a less common supplement and many work nearly as well. It is best to consult a vet if your pet has any concerning allergies and, in fact, it would be good to consult them in general for advice on probiotics and prebiotics.
At the end of the day, there is no cure-all for pets and their illnesses or behavior could be caused by any number of issues. However, prebiotics and probiotics have been shown to help many dogs and people with their digestive systems and there is a long history of mysterious “healthy” foods which now have a scientific explanation for their benefits.