PREBIOTICS AND PROBIOTICS

January 21, 2013

 

So, you may or may not keep hearing about these nifty things called “prebiotics” and “probiotics”.

And you may or may not be scratching your head wondering, “Gee, Calvin & Susie Blogger, what are they? Does my pet need both? Are they the same thing?

 

Before embarking on this post, I only had a basic understanding of prebiotics and probiotics. I knew that probiotics are a substance that stimulates the growth bacteria in the intestinal tract that supplements normal, beneficial flora,- but I wasn’t entirely sure what prebiotics were. My knowledge of them was relegated to the understanding that they were a fiber that nourished bacteria. Thats it.

 

And how exactly do these substances aid in the health of my cat or dog?

 

So I sleuthed around on the internet, and this is what I found. Consider this a beginning, an introduction to how prebiotics and probiotics can better the health of your pet. Enjoy!

 

Some basic facts about prebiotics and probiotics*

 

1. Prebiotics are a very special form of dietary fiber.Probiotics are living bacteria intended to benefit colon health.

 

2. Prebiotic Fiber is not affected by heat, cold, acid or time. Probiotics can be killed by heat, acid or simply the passage of time.

 

3. Prebiotics nourish the thousands of good bacterial species already living in the colon.   Probiotics contain from one to a few species of bacteria which are added to the colon when they are ingested (eaten).

 

4. Prebiotic Fiber is a naturally-occurring substance, found in thousands of plant species (though mostly in very small amounts).  Probiotics occur naturally in fermented foods like yogurt or sauerkraut.

 

5. Prebiotics foster an environment in the colon which is hostile to bad bacteria.  Probiotics may impact bad bacteria by crowding them out.

 

6. The benefits of prebiotics are supported by extensive research. The benefits of probiotics are supported by extensive research

 

7. BOTH Prebiotics and Probiotics must be ingested in sufficient quantity to have an impact, and should not carry an excessive “load” of sugar, calories, carbs, etc.

 

So how does this help my dog or cat?

 

There’s bacteria in your pet. And that’s a good thing. Inside the pet’s large and small intestine there are good bacteria and bad bacteria. The bad bacteria can make your pet sick and result in yeast problems (itching, crusty skin, scabs, break outs, and smelly excretions from skin, ears and other orifices, among other symptoms), inefficient absorption of nutrients and a host of other illnesses.

 

Good bacteria keeps your pet healthy, absorbing the proper amount of nutrients, able to regulate digestion and generally feeling good.

 

Prebiotics and probiotics make sure that there is more good bacteria than bad bacteria.

 

Essentially, and I’m stating this in layman’s terms, prebiotics stimulate the growth of good bacteria and probiotics are good bacteria.

 

As bacteria, probiotics need food to survive. Prebiotics provide that food in the form of “complex sugars that selectively stimulate growth of ‘good’ bacteria in the intestine”. Like I said, probiotics are that good bacteria. When your pet has a balanced amount of good bacteria in their intestinal tract you’ll find that your pet has more energy and healthy bowel movements. This is due to the fact that a healthy large intestine can readily absorb “nutrients, antioxidants, and iron” and your pet’s body is not struggling with intestinal inflammation or malabsorption – resulting in diarrhea.

 

For more information on prebiotics and probiotics check out here and here. (Pet Care Corner and Whole Dog Journal, respectively)

 

NOTE: If your pet already has some GI conditions, add prebiotics to their diet is not recommended. The addition of such fiber could lead to continued diarrhea, bloating or discomfort. Probiotics, on the other hand, have to shown to improve digestion problems.

 

Alright, How Do I Feed My Pet Prebiotics and Probiotics?

 

The most effective way to feed prebiotics or probiotics to your pet is in a high quality supplement.

 

Make sure you READ THE LABEL and there are no extra fillers or suspicious ingredients present in the supplement. Also be sure of dosage. Note the dosing recommendation on the bottle, but it can never hurt to check with your vet.

 

Some dog and cat foods contain prebiotics, some contain probiotics, and sometimes both, called “symbiotics”. Probiotics die at high heat, so for the food’s probiotic content to be effective it needs to have been added in after the cooking process. When in doubt, contact the food company.

 

I hoped this helped. In putting this together, it clarified a lot of things for me. Perhaps prebiotics or probiotics is right for your pet?

 

If so, please, always check with your vet before making any changes to your pet’s diet. The Calvin & Susie Blogger always researches to the best of her ability, but she is not a vet. This blog is not in any way meant to replace veterinary advice or care. When in doubt always ask a vet.

 

Thank you and be well!

 

~Your Loyal Calvin & Susie Blogger

 

*courtesy of prlog.org

 

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