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The most common source of probiotics available for consumption is perhaps yogurt. But what exactly is a ‘probiotic’ and how is it helpful for the body?
The term ‘probiotic’ refers to “friendly” or beneficial bacteria (and yeasts) present in the gut. All animals, just like human beings, have billions of gut-friendly bacteria in their gastrointestinal systems. These bacteria help support digestion, offer protection against harmful pathogens, aid absorption of vitamins and other nutrients and also boost the immune system.
Some of the common species of friendly gut bacteria include Lactobacillus, Streptococcus, Enterococcus and Bifidobacterium. While some species of immunity-boosting bacteria such as Bifidobacterium are present in the large intestines, others like Lactobacillus live mainly in the small intestine.
Digestive Problems in Dogs
Medical studies suggest that the gut is the most important (and the largest) immune organ present in our body. This is true for dogs as well. The gut facilitates the absorption of food in the body, while eliminating elements such as toxins and bacteria. But it is possible for this defense mechanism to collapse or break down, even in dogs.
So what happens when your dog’s gut experiences functional problems? Well, it is likely that your pet friend will experience similar digestive problems such as diarrhea/constipation and vomiting. When studying gastrointestinal problems in dogs, it is vital to understand that these gut issues are usually related to the consumption of foods that your dog isn’t equipped to digest.
Probiotics for Dogs
Much like they help human beings, probiotics can offer multiple benefits to dogs as well. These are primarily relates to boosting immunity and aiding digestion. Probiotics are known for producing SCFAS or short-chain fatty acids. These SCFAs help restrict the activity and growth of various harmful bacteria (Salmonella, E.coli, Clostridium perfringens etc.)
Bacteria and viruses can enter your dog’s body via the mouth. Probiotics work as a defense system against these bacteria and viruses, starting from the mouth, all the way down to the gastrointestinal tract of the dog. This means that your dog can enjoy higher levels of immunity with the intake of probiotics.
Probiotics can also help minimize inflammation throughout the dog’s body, while putting it at a lower risk of chronic disease. And of course, probiotics aid digestion and absorption of vitamins and minerals. With probiotics, your dog is likely to experience better absorption of vital nutrients such as vitamin B-12.
While probiotic supplements for dogs are easily available in the market, you can meet your pet’s probiotic requirements via natural sources like yogurt, buttermilk, soft cheese, coconut milk, kefir, fermented veggies etc.
Tip: If your dog is sick and taking medication, alternate its antibiotic dose with probiotics for faster recovery!