Using Prebiotics and Probiotics to Keep Your Pet Balanced
Probiotics and Digestive Health for Dogs and Cats
Your pet's gut is filled with microorganisms, and many of these are bacteria. There are populations of "good bacteria" and "bad bacteria," that are in balance when everything is working the way it should. When something disrupts the GI tract, the bad bacteria may start to overpopulate, causing problems such as diarrhea, vomiting, gas, and intestinal cramping.
Feeding Your Pet
The first thing to keep your dog or cat's digestive tract healthy is feeding a high quality food that is easy to digest. Lots of protein, especially for dogs, can remain undigested and cause bacteria in the gut to ferment it. Limit the snacks you feed your dog, especially people foods. Instead, feed your pup high quality treats as less than 10% of their diet to minimize changes from diet or dietary indiscretion.
Probiotics are supplemented good bacteria, such as Bifidus species and Acidophilus species. Giving these to your pet enhances their immune system by promoting a healthy mucosal layer, as well as aiding in the breakdown of foodstuffs.
Probiotics come in different forms. You can feed these with your pet's food or as a pill separate from food. Frozen yogurt is a great source for probiotics because it includes the live strains and dogs love the treat! There are also powder formulations, pills, and chewable soft treats that can provide beneficial bacteria to your dog or cat's gut.
Most people know about probiotics, but what about prebiotics? Prebiotics are food ingredients that remain relatively undigested until they get to the colon, where they are fermented into short chain fatty acids. These SCFAs feed the colon wall cells, as well as good bacteria. Many of these inhibit the growth of bad bacteria while promoting the growth of good bacteria.
If you feed probiotics, it stands to reason that you should also feed prebiotics to support the growth of your dog's beneficial bacteria colonies. Some dogs and cats don't tolerate prebiotics well, so you should initially feed them in small amounts to minimize the disruption they might have on your pet. If they don't cause bloating or diarrhea, you can keep giving them.
At Jake's Pet Supply, we have a variety of probiotic and prebiotic formulas for your pet. Some are frozen, including goat’s milk and goat’s milk treats; others are available in powder or chewable form. Give us a call or stop by to discuss what might work best for your pet.