Probiotics and Your Pet!

Probiotics are receiving a lot of attention these days to improve the health of both human and our pets. Here is what we know about probiotics for your pets.

Probiotics are single or mixed cultures of live and non-pathogenic microorganisms that are found in foods (especially acidic dairy yoghurt, kefir, buttermilk, cheese) or in nutritional supplements on the form of tablets, capsules or powder. They can also be found in certain pet foods.

Initially, probiotics have been used in the prevention and treatment of intestinal and bowel diseases.
However, research is now showing that probiotics may be linked to blocking harmful bacteria in the mouth, reducing mouth plaque and regulating certain cells functionality and promoting healthy cells in the body.

There is also a link to them helping reduce cancer, and to heal the body from toxicity that can build up during cancer treatment such as chemotherapy and radiology.

It is important to note though that the research on probiotics, especially in canines and the reduction of cancer, is still well in its infancy.

However, many sources really boast about the benefits. The magazine, Dogs Naturally, shares these reasons for using probiotics with your pets:

  • Probiotics are little chemical factories that protect the body from bacteria, viruses and fungi
  • They’re an important barrier to cancer-causing toxins, drugs, heavy metals and allergens
  • They produce the important B vitamins
  • They help the body absorb nutrients like calcium, magnesium and iron
  • They help with proper digestion
  • They slow the growth of harmful bacteria, like salmonella or E coli

If you do choose to use probiotics for your pet, it also might be a good idea to throw in some prebiotics into your pets’ diet. Prebiotics are the foods that help keep the probiotics alive inside the body, so they can live longer.

Prebiotic foods include:

  1. Garlic
    Give up to 1 tsp of raw, organic, US grown garlic per 30 lbs of your dog’s body weight per day. You might have heard that garlic is toxic for dogs – but the devil is in the dose!
  2. Dandelion Greens And Other Green Leafy Vegetables
    Feed about 1 tsp of dried herb for each 20 lbs of body weight.
  3. Bananas
    Use bananas that are still a little green. About an inch of banana per day is enough for a 50 lb dog, or half a banana a couple of times a week.
  4. Apples
    Apples are another natural prebiotic source and you can slice them up as treats or put them through your food processor. Just avoid feeding the seeds as they can cause an upset stomach in some dogs. And organic apples are always better!
  5. Asparagus
    Dogs love the taste of asparagus! You can chop some up raw and just add it to your dog’s bowl.

Natural pre-biotics found in foods are: inulin, chicory root, beet pulp, tomato pomace and fructooligosaccharides.

If you are starting to use probiotics there are two that are out on the market that are important for dogs:
1. L. acidophilus
2. Bifidobacteria

Raw goat milk is also an excellent natural source of probiotics, and as mentioned above many natural pet foods can contain pro-biotics and also pre-biotics. It’s important to read the labels on your food.
As always, if you start a new diet or make a switch in your pets’ meal plan and they start to experience negative health issues, stop immediately and consult your local veterinary. All dogs and cats are different and may react in different ways to certain supplements and diet.

Sources:
Zambori C. et al./Scientific Papers: Animal Science and Biotechnologies, 2014, 47 (1)
Chandler, Marge. Journal of Small Animal Practice: Probiotics – not all created equally. 2014, August 29. https://doi.org/10.1111/jsap.12263
Dogs Naturally – https://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/probiotics-how-to-waste-money-on-your-dog/
Dogs Naturally – https://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/why-probiotics-are-important-for-dogs/


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