A Healthy Dog Needs a Healthy Gut: The Importance of Probiotics
Is your dog displaying some unexplained health problems, from chronic inflammation and poor immune resistance to allergies or digestive disorders? Believe it or not, all of these issues, as well as many others, may originate in one part of his body -- the gut. Bacterial imbalances can make your pet sick in all sorts of ways, drastically (and unnecessarily) limiting his quality of life. The good news is that you can fix those imbalances by giving your dog probiotics. Let's examine how bacteria affect animals' health, how "good bacteria" can help, and what kinds of probiotics might do your dog a world of good.
The Role of Bacteria in Your Pet's Gut
An animal's body plays host to trillions of bacteria on a regular basis, and at least 70 percent of this bacteria lives in the mucosal tissues that line the digestive system. If the thought of your beloved dog filled with bacteria makes you cringe, think again. While some bacteria can indeed have damaging or even deadly effects, other strains of bacteria actually convey a variety of healthy benefits, including:
- Protecting the body against infection
- Synthesizing vitamins and other key nutrients
- Helping your pet digest food
- Preventing digestive disorders such as diarrhea and "leaky gut" (in which unwanted molecules breach the digestive mucosa, prompting an inflammatory response)
More Good Bacteria = Less Bad Bacteria
What happens, then, when your dog has too little of this "good bacteria" in his gut? The bad bacteria has an opportunity to overrun his digestive system -- and so it does. Many of the resulting problems strike the digestive system directly, resulting in constipation, diarrhea, digestive ulcers, bloating, discomfort and gas. Cases of "leaky gut" related to bacterial imbalances may be factors in the development of diabetes, arthritis, allergies, mood disorders, liver disease, and obesity.
Fortunately, you can fight fire with fire -- or rather, you can fight bad bacteria with good bacteria. These positive bacterial strains take up space in the gut that would otherwise be occupied by destructive strains, resulting in a healthier gut and a healthier dog. The foods and supplements that provide these positive strains are called probiotics.
Probiotics Can Give Your Dog's Health a Boost
The benefits of probiotics on human health have long been known and studied -- and the veterinary community is starting to see the same benefits in research done on dogs. Veterinary experts believe that the right probiotics, administered in the right dosages, can inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria in the gut. One of the more dramatic examples has been the effect of probiotic treatment on dogs suffering from acute hemorrhagic diarrhea syndrome, or AHDS. Research found that the introduction of probiotics helped the bacterial balance in the gut return to normal, reducing toxins and allowing the dogs to recover quickly.
Common Probiotic Recommendations for Canines
A variety of foods offer probiotic effects for dogs. While you should never automatically assume that your pooch can eat the same foods that you can, certain foods are both safe and beneficial for the guts of dogs and human alike. Examples include kefir (a fermented milk drink), sauerkraut, miso, and tempeh. Your veterinarian can also recommend specific foods or dietary changes to add more good bacteria to your pet's gut. But if you want to make certain that your pet is receiving a healthy daily dose of probiotics, you'll want to look into supplementation. Seek out supplements designed specifically for dogs, containing such gut-healthy bacterial strains as:
- Lactobacillus plantarum
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
- Lactobacillus casei
- Bifidobacterium bifidum
- Bifidobacterium animalis
- Enterococcus faecium
Products to Enhance Your Pet's Health
If you're looking for one handy product that gives your pet the benefits of many powerful probiotic strains, look no further than Doggie Dailies. Our Advanced Probiotic Supplement for Dogs is rich in five critical Lactobacillus strains, with each strain including 200,000 live organisms. That's a total of 1 billion good bacteria in every dose.
- Dana S