Solution for Your Dog's Upset Tummy

Solution for Your Dog's Upset Tummy
Solution for Your Dog's Upset Tummy
How probiotics & prebiobitcs can help

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Intestinal microbiota, or what used to be called gut flora, plays an important and largely unsung role in your dog’s gastrointestinal and overall health. A balanced intestinal ecosystem provides nutritional benefits (healthy digestion means better absorption of nutrients), primes the immune system, and protects against pathogens. On the other hand, upsets to the bacterial ecosystem, such as that caused by indiscriminate antibiotic use, contribute to gastrointestinal disease. You can help keep your dog’s intestinal ecosystem on track (happy guts!) by giving your dog beneficial bacteria, aka probiotics.

You may be asking: Just what are probiotics? And what about prebiotics? What the heck are those?

Probiotics are defined as live microorganisms, which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit.

Prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients like fructooligosaccharides that are added to diets to stimulate the growth of native probiotic bacteria in the intestine.

Synbiotics are a combination of probiotics and prebiotics.

Uses for probiotics include preventing and treating acute or stress-related diarrhea (think boarding or travelling). In fact, the most commonly observed benefit is reducing the duration of a bout of diarrhea. For best results in shortening the duration of stress-related GI upset, administer the probiotics a couple of days ahead of the potentially stressful event.

There are different strains of probiotic, each with a unique mechanism of action, so specific strains of probiotics may be needed to target a specific condition. Studies have found that in dogs with chronic GI inflammation (IBD), a product containing probiotic VSL#3 strains improved the clinical signs. Dogs responded within 10 days of administration and showed no relapse while continuing to take the probiotics. It is likely that these probiotic products may be useful as an adjunct to standard therapy until remission of the disease is seen and may beneficially influence the immune system.

Aside from gastrointestinal applications, several studies have evaluated the effects of probiotics for things such as improving vaccine responses and increase of immunoglobulin production in young animals, as well as for the prevention of atopic dermatitis. While the results are promising, more studies are needed to evaluate which probiotic strains are most useful and the required dosage for benefits to be seen. Stay tuned!

A note to consider: Many commercially available probiotic products lack proper quality so it is crucial to select a product from a reputable manufacturer that has extensive data to show the product contains a sufficient amount of viable organisms (from shipping and storage through to the end of the recommended shelf life).

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