These days, gut health is a rather hot topic, and we should consider not just our gut health but also our dogs’ because good gut health affects everything from immunity to brain function. Today, probiotics, prebiotics, or combination products can be found almost anywhere. These can be over-the-counter foods, therapeutic diets, or supplements known as nutraceuticals.
There are many signs that your dog needs a probiotic, including diarrhoea, foul smelling stool and itching problems. About 70% of your dog's immune system is located in its digestive system, making this area the first line of defence against infections. Probiotics help the immune system to work well by restoring balance in the digestive system to help digestion.
To further understand the differences between probiotics and prebiotics, let's explore what each term means and how beneficial they are.
Prebiotics VS Probiotics
Put simply, probiotics are "good or friendly" bacteria, and prebiotics are the nutrients those bacteria consume. We'll go over all you should know about each of them in this blog post and the importance of each one for your dog's digestive and general health.
The Gut Microbiome and Its Importance
Your puppy’s gut plays a crucial role in practically all of their physical functions as soon as they are born, from digestion to immunity. The GI tract is home to several living microbes, predominantly bacteria but also fungi and other organisms, which comprise the gut microbiome. There are so many that it's estimated that they weigh about the same as the brain.
How Does Food Affect Your Dog's Digestive System?
The diet you feed your dog can have a beneficial or negative impact on the microbiome of your pet. For example, diets that include a lot of grains can lead to a build up of gas in your dog’s gut as it’s difficult for grains to be digested quickly. Your dog's digestive health may also be impacted by other lifestyle decisions, such as how much exercise or sleep they get and how much stress they are under. A great way of helping improve your dog's intestinal health is by giving them prebiotics and probiotics in their food, and making sure you are feeding them a healthy, balanced diet.
What Are Probiotics?
Live microbes called probiotics are present in your dog’s stomachs. Sometimes though your dog won’t have enough of these microbes so probiotics introduce these helpful bacteria into your dog’s gut. According to current research they help with treating GI disorders like diarrhoea, colitis and pancreatitis as well as helping restore balance to your dog’s microbiome.
Your dog’s intestinal bacteria can benefit from probiotics in a variety of ways. They can lower the number of harmful bacteria while raising the number of beneficial bacteria. In addition, some probiotics reduce pathogenic bacterial populations' development and adhesion to intestinal epithelial cells.
What Are Prebiotics?
Prebiotics are a special fibre in diets that naturally occurs in some food we feed our furry friends. Technically speaking, they are called oligosaccharides, or complex carbohydrates, and comprise fructans (from fruit) and galactooligosaccharides.
The fibre must move undigested through the intestinal tract to be considered a prebiotic. This is because they effectively serve as food for the gut microorganisms. The good bacteria consume the prebiotics and convert them into a fatty acid called butyrate. One of the various functions of this acid is that it's thought to aid in preventing both inflammation and cancer.
Prebiotics can be found naturally in several healthy items for your dog to eat. However, some ingredients—like apples, oats, and the supplements they take—have higher concentrations of prebiotic fibre.
Why Does Your Dog Need Both?
Before giving your dog prebiotic and probiotic supplements, you may want to speak with your vet, especially if your dog is already receiving medication or treatment for any condition.
Your dog can benefit from prebiotics and probiotics in several ways, including:
- If your dog has a healthy digestive system, you might assume they don't need supplements. Still, it's always a good idea to be proactive and aid your dog in maintaining healthy bacteria by adding digestive support supplements to their food.
- When your dog is stressed, their digestive comfort may suffer, especially if anxiousness causes them to lose their appetite. Prebiotic and probiotic supplements made specifically for dogs might assist in maintaining digestion at times when your dog may be going through a stressful time.
- If your dog occasionally has a sensitive digestive system and you notice they have diarrhoea, loose stools or more wind you may want to try prebiotics and probiotics. If the pre and probiotics don’t help you should speak to your vet to check there isn’t a more serious underlying issue.
Probiotics and prebiotics for dogs as supplements that you include in a diet must be appropriate for your dog's breed, age, and health. This is crucial to keep in mind. So that you can be certain they have an effect, search for products designed for the size and breed of dog you have.
Tips for Starting Your Dog on Prebiotics and Probiotics
The function and purpose of prebiotics and probiotics have already been discussed. So how should you go about giving them to your dog? Like any dog supplement, probiotics and prebiotics must be taken according to a few guidelines to get the best results.
After introducing a new gut supplement, including prebiotics and probiotics, your dog may experience some temporary symptoms such as being more gassy. These symptoms may be typical for most dogs as new bacteria establish themselves in the gut microbiome. However, try beginning with a half-dosage of the supplement for a week before increasing to the full advised dose to help prevent your dog's symptoms from becoming too severe.
Do Not Mix with Other Supplements
Mixing pre and probiotic supplements, even one from different brands, is likely to make your dog’s stomach disruption worse. This can make knowing which supplements benefit or harm your dog's GI function difficult and can increase the likelihood of bacterial overgrowth.
Be Patient to Get the Results
Probiotics and prebiotics are typically not instant fixes for your dog's digestive problems. It takes time to get your dog’s gut microbiome functioning properly, particularly in dogs that have digestive issues. Before deciding whether the supplement is helping your dog, you need to use the supplement daily and for several weeks.
To sum up, prebiotics and probiotics both enhance the general health of your dog. Probiotics are good and friendly bacteria, whereas prebiotics are indigestible fibres that feed the healthy and friendly bacteria in the stomach. Both can be provided to your furry friend as a part of a balanced diet that includes prebiotics found in natural ingredients such as marshmallow roots, apples, oats, etc.
Prebiotics and probiotics for dogs benefit your furry buddy's long-term digestion, skin, coat, and immune health, so it is worthwhile to try them.