Dogs experience digestive upset like vomiting, diarrhea and constipation . . . partly because we have a tendency to eat things we shouldn’t like dad’s leather shoe, the contents of the garbage can, the remote, a dead carcass . . . and many other yummy treasures we find out in the lawn.
In addition, antibiotic use to treat some of these issues can kill off the good bacteria that fight the bad bacteria. But to be honest, most pet digestive issues result from our diets. The truth is that many “premium brands” contain grains and fillers that can result in digestive problems, allergies, and a weakened immune system.
According to Dr. Richard Hill, small-animal internist and clinical nutritionist, gastrointestinal issues are second only to skin diseases in dogs.
While our guts are pretty tough . . . they can only handle so much. The gut is the largest immune organ in the body . . . for both humans and for us dogs. Are you aware that nearly 85 percent of our immune system is directly connected to the health of our digestive tract? So that means that when my GI tract is out of whack, chronic issues creep in because my immune system is overwhelmed with “bad” bacteria.
Probiotics, the gut-dwelling "good bacteria" assist in digestion and help fend of gastrointestinal troubles. Probiotics ensure that good bacteria in the digestive tract destroy bad bacteria (like E. Coli, Salmonella and Clostridium). Further, digestive enzymes can support overall health and immunity.
Here are some of the benefits of adding probiotics to my food:
- Stop diarrhea
- Improve digestion
- Improve absorption of vitamins and minerals
- Eliminate bad breath – so I can give lots of puppy kisses!
- Reduce flatulence
- Prevent or reduce allergies
- Improve my coat
- Relieve inflammation in my joints
- Give me more energy
- Build a strong immune system (particularly for puppies and senior dogs)
- Prevent stomach upset from stress and changes in my routine
- Help manage Irritable bowel syndrome
- Aid in combatting urinary tract infections
If I have symptoms of vomiting, diarrhea, pain, and I am lethargic . . . please make an appointment for a vet visit. It is important to get a diagnosis and rule out the possibility that I ate something poisonous or that I have a parasite, or some other disease. Once those have been ruled out, then use that information to make choices to improve my digestive system. Unfortunately digestive issues are often treated symptomatically with prescription diets and medications which do not treat the cause of the problem.
Who should be on probiotics? Well pretty much every dog . . . why? The processing of dry kibble diets destroys most of the enzymes needed to properly breakdown the food so that its nutrients can be absorbed in the system. If you feed a raw diet like my mom does for us, the probiotic helps to balance out our intestinal flora and promotes optimal health and immune function. Probiotics can be used for all dogs, including puppies and senior dogs that may have weaker immune systems, and should be considered a part of a pet's "diet" rather than a supplement.
Not all dog probiotics are alike. Many lose their potency before you ever open the bottle. And there are many bad products out there just like with human supplements. In addition, probiotics are a bit sensitive and are easily killed by heat, air and moisture. Some probiotic species require refrigeration to keep them viable.
Here are two really good supplements that my mom has personal experience and success with:
Power Probiotic from Ask Ariel
“Power Probiotic is very carefully manufactured, guaranteed to survive your pet's stomach acid so that it can help the intestinal tract. TzymeTM is the trademark of a proprietary blend of highly active, functional enzymes. This product will really work for conditions such as diarrhea, gas, gastrointestinal issues, immune weakness, candida, bad dog breath and more. If you or your pet have taken antibiotics or prednisone in the past, this natural dog and cat probiotic is critical for restoring the good bacteria and balance of flora.”
Simple ingredients containing 70 minerals and vitamins hand harvested from the icy waters of Nova Scotia with added prebiotics and probiotics.