Probiotics: live microorganisms found in not only your gut, but your pet’s.
Living organisms taking shelter in both mine and my pet’s bodies? Now this might sound a bit alarming, but take heart because we can reassure you that when given in appropriate amounts, it’s not. There’s a reason why so many supplements and food options available to both you and your pets use probiotics!
Probiotics are indeed live organisms, typically bacteria or yeast, but they’re friendly ones! Most of the immune system is found working closely with the digestive system. It is for that reason that, found in the digestive tract, probiotics have the task of balancing the bacteria already found in the gut. An imbalance of “good” and “bad” bacteria is what leads to digestive issues like gas, bloating, heartburn, and diarrhea, as well as an overall weaker immune system and higher risk of infectious diseases. The addition of probiotics into your dog, cat, or companion’s diet, whether in the form of supplements, capsules, sprays, powders, or wet and dry food, helps maintain healthy levels of the good bacteria. This fights off the excess growth of bad bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract like E. Coli or salmonella. Plus, because gut balance is typically thrown off when switching your dog’s diet from one type or brand to another, probiotics are ideal during the transition period. The addition of healthy, friendly bacteria can help with any gastrointestinal upsets and help the system to better adjust to the change.
According to Marcella D. Ridgway, VMD, probiotics can help to treat not only digestive and gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea or constipation, but can also improve mood and behavior disorders, liver disease, and obesity. Not to mention, other noted benefits have included less flatulence, reduced pain and swelling, and less stress - the same way probiotics can assist humans! More importantly, these natural enzymes are often used to help pets recover from any weakness or illnesses. While probiotics are extremely helpful to animals suffering from any abrupt changes that cause stress, immune disorders, allergies, diabetes, vomiting, inflammatory conditions like arthritis, leaky gut syndrome, etc, it’s important to keep in mind that pets don’t need to have any current health conditions or illnesses to use probiotics. In fact, it's probiotics that often reduce the risk of developing such issues!
Probiotics have many general benefits, but their advantages become even more specific depending upon which type is used in the supplement being given to your dog. It’s best to consult with your veterinarian to find a dependable, trustworthy option that incorporates probiotics safely into your furry friend’s system. Supplements typically do the job best!
Unfortunately, probiotics and their benefits tend to naturally diminish once consumption or supplements are stopped. Because probiotics have so many perks, many pet parents understandably want to help keep the benefits alive for as long as possible. A great approach to doing so would be by using probiotics in combination with prebiotics.
Yet another “biotic” to keep track of, but it’s still a friendly, beneficial one! Prebiotics are non-digestible fibers that promote the growth of probiotics, or healthy bacteria. They last for much longer in your pet’s system, hindering the growth of harmful bacteria and traveling to the colon, thus acting as a source of energy and assisting the intestines to work properly. Common prebiotics are inulin, fructo-oligosaccharides, and galactooligosaccharides.
Prebiotics are found in supplements and pet food, as well, whether wet or dry. Though often given through veterinary diets prescribed by a veterinarian, more available options are ready for the choosing, too! Commercially sold foods that contain certain ingredients like legumes, mushrooms, soybeans, pumpkins, oats, flaxseed, etc, are natural carriers rich in prebiotics. This means that prebiotics may already be included in your dog or cat’s day to day diets without you even realizing. If they haven’t, it’ll be easy to introduce. If you have a picky eater that doesn’t take well to ingredients like those, that’s when supplements come in and can easily be mixed in with your pet’s current meals or treats, depending upon the specific product’s instructions.
When making a choice of whether or not to supplement or introduce higher levels of probiotics and prebiotics into your companion’s diet, it’s always best to consult with your veterinarian to ensure that you are safely, effectively doing so. Once they help you select the right options for your pet’s individual needs and give you the go ahead, you’ll be seeing the pros of probiotics and prebiotics in your companion’s overall health in no time!
Author Biography: Megan Lim is a current journalism major and writer for The Hungry Puppy Pet Food & Supplies Store located in Farmingdale, NJ. The Hungry Puppy is a one stop shop that provides pets and pet owners with all their dog, cat, equine, bird, wildlife, farm and small animal needs! Carrying premium brands at the lowest prices, The Hungry Puppy has all the food options and products you need to be the best possible pet parent! When Megan is not writing for The Hungry Puppy, she can be found going for walks with her two adorable dogs, Tubby and Kato.