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Probiotics For Your Pets

The health and wellness industry promotes the use of probiotics as essential for an improved immune system which prompts many pet owners to ask if dogs and cats can take probiotics as well. The answer is yes, they can benefit from having probiotics but it is a little more complicated. The fact is that most human probiotics have different strains of beneficial bacteria than the ones specifically made for dogs, the two essential ones are Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus. The formula should contain multiple strains of these two bacteria and a high CFU (colony-forming unit ) count. The CFU number should be in the billions because not all these bacteria will survive in the gut. In fact, you must look for products that contain prebiotics aka the food these bacteria will need to thrive in your pet's gastrointestinal tract.

Bifidobacterium is a normal habitant of your dog's gut, healthy numbers of these bacteria help decrease inflammation and help resolve episodes of diarrhea. Lactobacillus acidophilus helps control yeast overgrowth and helps prevent diarrhea associated with antibiotic treatment. Another common bacteria found in dog probiotic supplements is Enterococcus faecium. This one is effective against some bacterial infections and diarrhea caused by E. coli.

Probiotics have many proven health benefits including enhancing the immune response, reduce abdominal pain and inflammation. In practice, I have noticed other less known benefits like fewer allergies, less eye staining, better oral smell and even helping anxious dogs be calmer. In my personal experience owning two Pugs who suffer from deadly flatulence, the probiotic supplement Synacore has made a huge impact. I have heard from some clients that started the probiotic supplements and their dogs had looser stool or their cat seem to vomit more. The reason some pets react that way is that in essence, you are rebuilding the bacterial population in the gut wall. In those cases I say do half doses and every other day until the stools normalize, then you can increase either the dose or the frequency.

There are many really good veterinary-specific probiotics but the reason one of my favorites is Synacore is that it also contains multi-vitamins and digestive enzymes making it a complete gut wall refurbisher. Digestive enzymes are in the saliva, stomach, small intestine, and pancreas. The pancreas is the major player and it produces the main enzymes needed to digest starch, fat, and protein. In some cases when pet parents feed table scraps, these digestive enzyme demand causes the pancreas to swell and be inflamed causing a life-threatening situation. Supplementation cuts the demand on the pancreas and avoids injury to that organ.

There are fermented foods like sauerkraut and foods containing live beneficial bacteria like yogurt that could be given to pets but in my opinion, using a veterinary-specific supplement will give the correct amounts of beneficial bacteria without the added sugars and spices. Human probiotic products are harmless but less effective since the strains are for different species. In any case, Probiotics can help improve your pet's immune system and overall wellbeing.

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