Probiotics, related to digestive health, is a topic that has been near and dear to my heart due to an experience I had with my dog, Jax. Jax is a Belgian Malinois with boundless energy and a look that will melt your heart! When Jax was about eight months old, he started to experience some pretty significant health issues. He started to lose weight, to the point where he was actually looking malnourished.
At first, I attributed this to the fact that I owned a high energy, working line dog and that he was a growing puppy. I did the logical thing and increased his food; at the worst Jax was eating 6-8 cups of kibble per day and still wasn’t gaining any weight. During this whole ordeal, he didn’t have healthy or firm stools, and all of that food that I was giving him was coming out both ends. After several costly trips to the vet, I was left with minimal answers and was feeling discouraged. The kibble Jax was on was not only expensive, but it did nothing to help his situation. At this point I took matters into my own hands and started doing some research. I looked at the ingredients in the food Jax was on and was shocked to see it was not the high quality that I expected. The kibble contained large amounts of corn as well as other non-essential “fillers”. Jax wasn’t absorbing these low-quality nutrients. With his digestive tract in such an inflamed state, we began our raw food journey in hopes of seeing improvement. With the help of raw food and probiotics, Jax’s digestive track regained the balance it needed and is now able to properly absorb the nutrients in his food. Jax is now a happy, healthy dog with no more weight issues! Probiotics have made a world of difference in Jax’s life.
What are Probiotics?
Probiotics are the beneficial or “good” bacteria that live in the digestive tract. There are a variety of different types. Some live primarily in the small intestine, while others reside in the large intestine. Probiotics are living microorganisms that assist throughout the digestive process and help keep the digestive tract and its lining healthy. There are millions of microbes in the gut. These microbes play a critical role in helping the body remain healthy. Probiotics also support the immune system, as 70%-80% of a pet’s immune system is in the digestive tract. Probiotics are a great way to support overall health in your pet, as not having the proper balance of good versus bad bacteria can cause your pet’s health to decline. In addition, some degenerative diseases can be due to poor digestive health.
Benefits of Probiotics
Pet food and supplement manufacturer, Carna4 states, “Recent research cites probiotics as combating disease-causing bacteria in various ways, such as:
• Producing antimicrobials and organic acids
• Stimulating the immune response and enzyme activity.
• Blocking binding sites to prevent pathogens from forming colonies in the intestines”
Gastrointestinal health is vital in helping to maintain a strong immune system. Healthy gut flora is directly linked to your pet’s immune system. If your cat or dog suffers from chronic health problems such as yeast infections, itching, bad breath and runny stools, you probably have a pet with an unhealthy gut. Probiotics do so much more then help keep your pet regular. They can assist in healthy immune function in puppies, defend the body against autoimmune disorders, help with waste odour, and improve oral, skin and coat health. Guts with low amounts of beneficial bacteria can be linked to health issues such as allergies, disease and chronic inflammation. There are dozens of different types of good bacteria in the gut; some of the most common are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Both Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus are friendly bacteria that can regulate the immune system and anti-inflammatory cells. These bacteria also help produce essential nutrients such as vitamins and healthy short-chain fatty acids.
When your pet’s ratio of good-to-bad GI bacteria is in the healthy range, it is known as symbiosis (living in balance). If the bacteria in the intestine is unbalanced, it allows the growth of harmful bacteria, which may leave your dog or cat susceptible to illness and unable to breakdown food and absorb nutrients. Dysbiosis is when your dog has an imbalance of gut bacteria, and there aren’t enough good bacteria to fight off the pathogens, which is why your dog is more susceptible to infection and disease. Dysbiosis can also lead to a more severe condition called Leaky Gut Syndrome.
Leaky Gut is a health condition commonly found in pets and is also known as “The Mimicker” because it has many similar symptoms to other health conditions. Leaky Gut Syndrome can be at the core of many different situations, including skin disease, a compromised immune system, food allergies, digestive problems, ear infections or any typical health condition that comes from an inflammatory disorder. Leaky Gut Syndrome is becoming an increasingly widespread condition in both animals and humans, yet it’s still not well known in the medical community. A poorly balanced digestive tract results in increased permeability of the intestinal wall, which means your pet’s GI tract will struggle to allow healthy bacteria and nutrients in and keep disease-causing bacteria, food particles, and toxins, out.
Here is a list of ways probiotics can help with pet health:
- Help break down food to assist with a higher absorption rate of nutrients; most pets only absorb 30-40% of the nutrients in their kibble.
- Synthesize nutrients and vitamins.
- Boost the immune system.
- Assist with GI abnormalities, such as gas and to regulate bowel function.
- Support for liver disease.
- Inhibit the overgrowth of bad bacteria like Salmonella and E. coli.
- Aid in preventing urinary tract infections.
- Aid in preventing bloat or torsion.
- Decreases intestinal strain and controls inflammation.
- Improves skin/coat health and bad breath.
Probiotics work hard to help your pet to be their healthiest, and with so many advantages why not add a quality probiotic to their bowl?
Choosing a probiotic for your cat or dog can be overwhelming. However, we have listed some of our favourite products and we welcome you to visit us in-store to ask questions about probiotics.
Healthy Gut by Adored Beast – This is a digestive enzyme as well as a pre- (“food” for probiotics) and probiotics supplement. Healthy Gut helps rebalance and cultivate proper growing conditions for friendly digestive flora. Additionally, it aids in the digestion of food and supports a healthy immune system.
Fido’s Flora by Adored Beast- Fido’s Flora is the first and only biologically species appropriate probiotics for your dog. Fido’s Flora is cultivated with two unique canine species of probiotics/ beneficial gut bacteria. These bacteria were explicitly chosen to:
- Not be affected by antibiotics commonly prescribed to treat intestinal upset.
- Pass through stomach acid to work in the small intestine.
- Improve the availability of nutrients to the diet.
- Produce metabolites that fight against bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella.
- Strengthen your dog’s immune system, help keep your dog’s gastrointestinal tract calm during times of stress.
Feline Gut Soothe by Adored Beast – Targets inflammation of the GI tract, respiratory system and urinary tract. This product can be used to rebalance gut flora and target GI issues. It is also great to help reduce inflammation that presents as arthritis, autoimmune disease and skin disease. Feline Gut Soothe helps to soothe and replenish the lining of the bowel, combats unhealthy bacteria with 14 species of probiotic, 15 billion CFU and support for issues such as:
- Bladder issues
Love Bugs by Adored Beast
Love Bugs pre and probiotics contains a 14-strain probiotic with 30 billion allergen-free CFU (colony forming units).
Love Bugs is good for:
- Promoting gut health
- Preventing tooth decay and protecting oral health
- Supporting ear and skin health
- Helping relieve allergy symptoms
- Supporting digestive issues
Whole Food Probiotic Products
Adding whole foods such as goat milk or kefir to your pet’s diet can be a great way to introduce some probiotics!
Flora4 by Carna4 – This sprouted seed based whole food supplement provides natural nourishment and has guaranteed levels of live probiotics (18 billion CFU/kg) (CFU = Colony Forming Units) and digestive enzymes (1 million U/kg); effective doses of 26 essential vitamins & minerals; and high levels of omega 3 & 6 fatty acids. Great for diarrhea and soft stools, for aiding digestion, for transitioning to new food and for dry flakey skin/coat.
Goat Milk by Primal – Goat Milk is known as the universal milk and can be absorbed by a variety of mammals. Goat Milk is a great way to help elevate your pet’s health, as it contains vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, enzymes, protein and fatty acids. Primal Goat Milk is raw (unpasteurized) and contains: Cinnamon – antibacterial/antifungal; can assist with arthritis and muscular inflammation. Ginger – digestive aid and natural antioxidant. Turmeric – natural anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and detoxifying herb. Lactobacillus acidophilus – probiotic bacteria
Kefir by Open Farm – Kefir grains are the starting culture to produce a kefir beverage, which is a fermented drink made from cows and/or goat milk. Open Farm’s kefir is certified human grade. It contains:
Milk – from pasture-raised, hormone-free and antibiotic-free cows
Cinnamon – antibacterial/antifungal and can assist with arthritis and muscular inflammation
Organic Turmeric – for extra antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
At Tail Blazers we are committed to curating the best quality products for our customers. Drop by any of our stores and talk to our knowledgeable staff with your probiotic and pet questions!
Taylor is an animal lover and the Franchise Marketing Support for Tail Blazers head office. She has two dogs of her own, Bear, a 2-year-old rescue mix from northern Ontario and Jax, an energetic, 4-year-old Belgian Malinois.
Product availability may vary by store. This article is not intended to provide health or legal advice or to diagnose, treat or cure. Please consult with your pet’s vet or health practitioner if your pet has health issues.
Krystn Janisse. (2016). Dog Food For Sensitive Stomachs: Improving Your Dog’s Digestion. Retrieved from Homesalive.ca website: https://blog.homesalive.ca/dog-food-for-sensitive-stomachs
Probiotics & Prebiotics – Carna4. (2020). Retrieved January 22, 2020, from Carna4 website: http://carna4.com/natural-rearing-101/probiotics-prebiotics/
Straus, M. (2012, February 17). The Benefits of Probiotics for Your Dog – Whole Dog Journal. Retrieved January 22, 2020, from Whole Dog Journal website: https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/health/digestion/the-benefits-of-probiotics-for-your-dog/
Tail_Blazers_Pets. (2016). Leaky Gut Symptoms – Part 2 – Tail Blazers Pets – Blog. Retrieved January 22, 2020, from Tailblazerspets.com website: https://tailblazerspets.com/blog/2016/12/leaky-gut-symptoms-part-2/
Julie Anne Lee. (2015, May 12). Dysbiosis: Does Your Dog Have Leaky Gut? Retrieved February 4, 2020, from Dogs Naturally website: https://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/leaky-gut-syndrome-in-dogs/