Should I Give My Dog Probiotic Supplements?
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Should I Give My Dog Probiotic Supplements?

For years, many pet owners have simply accepted the notion that processed dog foods are safe and healthy for their pets, but, following the recent recalls of tainted pet foods, these owners are beginning to ask questions and to research the actual process behind these processed foods. Often times, these owners are finding that many processed dog foods are not living up to their expectations because these foods lack key nutrients that are an essential part of a healthy canine diet. One prime example of these missing nutrients is the absence of probiotics within most processed dog foods.

So what are probiotics?

Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria the live inside an animal's digestive tract. There they aid in the digestion of food and the absorption of nutrients. Raw foods often contain various types of probiotics that pass through the stomach and colonize or grow in the intestines. Unfortunately, these microorganisms are also extremely fragile. As a result, processed dog foods are stripped of their naturally occurring probiotics by the intense amount of heat that is used to cook these food. A number of outside influences may also drastically affect an animal's level of probiotics. These influences may include:

  • Antibiotic therapies - are designed to kill bacterial infections in the body and will remove both good and bad bacterial from the digestive tract
  • De-wormers - generally target the intestines and may reduce the amount of bacteria growing there
  • Illness causing diarrhea- may cause the intestines the be stripped of bacteria
  • Stress - such as that caused by travel may also deplete these beneficial microorganisms

What are the benefits of probiotics?

In addition to aiding in digestion, probiotics also have a number of important health benefits for pets. These benefits include:

  • A enhanced production of the body's natural antibodies meaning a decreased chance of infection
  • Greater absorbtion and production of important nutrients such a B group vitamins and folic acid
  • A more complete digestion of foods, meaning less undigested food in the intestines and, as a result, less harmful bacteria growing there
  • Less damage to the kidneys and liver caused by the toxins excreted by these harmful bacteria

In general, dogs with healthy digestive tracts are less likely to experience vomiting, diarrhea, gas, and other symptoms associated with the improper digestion of food.

Probiotics sound important, how can I make sure my dog is getting them?

Probiotics come in a variety of forms. Since these types of bacteria are difficult to incorporate into traditional processed dog foods, only a few specialty brands carry foods containing probiotics. You probably won't be able to find these brands at your local pet supply store, but several on-line retailers, such as Petfood Cafe or The Pampered Pet Market, carry several lines of dog food containing probiotics. Unfortunately, the extra steps needed to ensure the quality of these bacteria cultures means that these foods will likely come at a substantial price. A more economical way to ensure your dog is receiving enough probiotics is to purchase additives available at most commercial retailers. These additive are generally around $15 for a two month supply.

While these supplements are probably the best way ensure that your dog receives plenty of probiotics, another option is to simply add a teaspoon of unflavored, unsweetened, natural yogurt to their food. Most yogurts contain many of the same bacterial cultures found in commercial additives but at a fraction of the price.  You will probably want to refrain from feeding your pet sweetened or flavored yogurts because of the large amounts of sugar that they contain.

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Comments (2)

Probiotics are especially helpful for dogs in times of mental and physical stress: *Birth (Mom and puppies) *Digestive Issues *During/After a course of antibiotics *After Deworming *Kenneling/Moving *Dietary Changes such as new food *Or as part of any general nutritional program

Ranked #9 in Dogs

yes, I add live yoghurt to my dogs diet, they enjoy it and I have the piece of mind that it is doing them good.