Probably the best part of the job here at gabbi’s is meeting many nice people and their furry companions! When recommending foods, we often hear pet parents tell us their pet experiences diarrhea. After asking a few questions regarding their pet’s diet and the duration of the symptoms, my advice is to treat the issue before changing diet. Regardless of the catalyst, my goal is to reduce and eventually eliminate the underlying cause-an unbalanced gastro-intestinal tract. After all, the gut is the largest immune system in the body because its job is to allow food absorption while excluding harmful bacteria and toxins. This is where probiotics come in, so what are they and how do they work?
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that live in the digestive tract. There are a variety of species that include lactobacillus, bifodobacterium, streptococcus, and enterococcus. These probiotics produce what we call short chain fatty acids, which inhibit the activity and growth of harmful bacteria such as salmonella, clostridium, and E. Coli, along with a host of healthful benefits. Even the smallest changes in your pet’s life can trigger internal and external stressors, resulting in an imbalance of good vs. bad bacteria. The good stabilizing bacteria are taken over by the bad and the result is typically diarrhea. Yuck!
The digestive cycle is complicated and is the end result of a lot of processes. In short, it’s primarily about proper bacteria balance and the enzymes that break down the components of food-proteins, fats, fiber, carbs, etc. The significance of the G.I. tract is relation to our pet’s health cannot be overstated and neglected. Within a day’s time, our pets take in a lot of potentially harmful bacteria and fungi. The G.I. tract is the initial line of defense, followed up by the big guns, our immune system. What is our best defense against these harmful invaders? Our pets not only need variety to exercise the immune system, they also need a boost of strong, good bacteria for the fight. The conventional wisdom of feeding only one food type for proper G.I. balance is not the answer. A rotation diet and supplemented probiotics are the strongest defense for Fido’s G.I. health. Many customers ask us, “doesn’t my pet get enough naturally occurring probiotics from the kibble he eats”? The answer is NO, here’s why. The probiotics in commercial pet food typically don’t survive processing and storage, which is why we advocate needed supplementation.
So how do probiotics work exactly? The G.I. tract inside us and our pets is what we call a microcosm (an ecosystem all its own) that starts in the mouth and ends at the rectum. What goes on in between is, in a perfect world, a balance of the process of fermentation. Probiotics are the result of a fermentation process helpful in stabilizing the G.I tract with healthy bacteria. Regarding Prebiotics, the current train of thought is this-oliosaccharides and mannanoligosaccharides help feed the healthy probiotics and also help recruit and extricate the harmful bacteria from the systems. Many studies circumstantially support and reflect this process.
Ok, let’s recap. Probiotics are healthy bacteria found in the digestive cycle that are the key to proper G.I. health and balance. As a digestive aid, benefits include proper immune system modulation, reduced intestinal inflammation, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), urinary tract infection prevention (UTI), and the ability to reduce allergic reactions by decreasing intestinal permability. Wow, that’s quite the list! Amazing stuff, huh!?
There are many probiotics on the market to choose from, so which one is best for my pet? Some probiotics require refrigeration in order to remain viable, and it’s questionable how many strains survive this process, along with the passage through stomach acid into the digestive tract. Many probiotics that are not refrigerated contain fewer living organisms than their labels claim. So, we prefer freeze-dried products for their guaranteed strain content and quality, which is why we recommend and sell MicroFlora by Herbsmith. This probiotic contains the recommended number of bacteria along with the key strains of bacteria pets benefit from. Proper amount and strain type is essential for effectiveness-too much can cause diarrhea and too little is ineffective. Remember, if probiotics are administered for digestive assistance, they are best given with meals. Otherwise, they are most effective when given with water so they better survive the digestive process and make it into the intestinal tract.
Always remember that we, at gabbi’s, are here to explain and recommend the proper treatment and administration of probiotics into your pet’s diet. Regardless of your pet’s age and breed, we can help with digestive issues using natural, holistic methods. We want your pet to live a long, healthy, stress free life!