THE PROS AND CONS OF PROBIOTICS…
By, Katy Cable-TWR
a 3 min read
Not a week goes by without helping handfuls of frustrated pet owners. Lately, most are trying to choose foods for pets with digestive issues. So many options, marketing buzz words and different recommendations, can make anyone a little “sick to their stomach!”
Last week a nice lady blurted out, “I keep hearing about probiotics...What the heck are they and why does my dog need them!” I was as happy as if I’d known the answer to the final Jeopardy question.
I’ve battled “tummy” issues all my life. Recently I put my own debilitating autoimmune condition (Hashimoto’s) into remission through diet, and probiotics. There can be many PROS to probiotics, but if you don’t know the facts, they can often be just a big, fat marketing CON! So let me break everything down into easy-to-digest pieces for you.
What Are Probiotics:
In both humans and canines, a majority of our bodies immune cells reside in the gut. Therefore keeping our tummies in balance is crucial to maintaining overall health.
Probiotics are tiny microorganisms that work primarily in the gut. Think of them as “good bacteria!” Microorganisms are called good bacteria because they provide tons of health benefits both inside and out. There are good and bad microorganisms in every gut which need to be kept in balance for our bodies to work at their best capacity.
When a dog's microbiome becomes unbalanced, the result can be more than just digestive issues. An out-of-whack microbiome can cause yeast infections, rashes, arthritis and other chronic inflammation diseases so prevalent today. Plus, as a dog ages, their gut becomes less efficient at absorbing nutrients. Probiotics become even more crucial for maintaining good overall health.
Many factors from antibiotics to aging can influence the health of your dog's GI tract and microbiome. Another biggie is your pet’s diet! Believe me, food is either making you sick or making you healthy. And same goes for our four-legged friends. More than anything else, what you feed your pet has a tremendous impact on how well their guts are able to absorb vital nutrients throughout their lives.
The “PROS” of Probiotics:
1. IMMUNITY/FIGHTING DISEASE: Believe it or not, around 70% of your canine’s immune cells are in their gut. Probiotics not only supply good microorganisms back into their system, they also prevent harmful bacteria from growing. Keeping the growth of bad bacteria down will help keep their immune response in prime condition.
2. WEIGHT MANAGEMENT: Simply put, probiotics help aid digestion. Easier digestion will increase metabolism. With a good metabolism, fat will be burned and used as fuel thus keeping your dog fit, trim and full of energy.
3. SHINY COAT: Probiotics do a number on your dog’sm outward appearance too. With the good and bad bacteria balance being kept in check, you’ll see a huge decrease in itching, skin irritations, hot spots, yeast infections, and ear infections. You’ll also notice your pet’s amazing soft, silky coat.
4. ALLERGY RELIEF: When an imbalance of good and bad bacteria occurs, it’s harder for your dog to fight off an allergic reaction. Probiotics can bring back balance which will, in turn, help their system fight allergies.
5. FRESH BREATH: They don’t call it “Dog Breath” for nothing! There is a certain bacteria in your dog’s gut that produces sulfur. This bacteria is attracted to areas that have dirty plaque and tartar buildup. -Your dog’s MOUTH. Probiotics can help prevent smelly bacteria from growing. This and regular brushing should do the trick getting rid of awful dog breath.
And The “CONS“:
Now that you’re ready to run out and grab probiotics, realize NOT ALL PROBIOTICS are PROS! There’s a lot of “con-artist” probiotics that get killed off before they reach your dog’s gut. The best way to get a healthy dose of probiotics is in your food as opposed to supplements. Good sources of probiotics are: kombucha, kefir, plain Greek yogurt*, kimchi, and fermented vegetables like sauerkraut. I don’t know many dogs that will devour a brimming bowl of sauerkraut, so it’s a good thing there are better options.
The recent marketing hype in pet food is “PROBIOTICS!” It seems everyone is touting it on their bags. But most of these probiotics are sprayed on the kibble. They’re not remotely strong enough to survive the ultra heat processing and shelf life of most pet foods, not to mention the rigors of digestion.
Nulo pet foods is one of the exceptions. Since it’s inception, they have used ®️GaneadenBC30, a patented powerhouse probiotic. It’s highly viable and delivers a guaranteed amount of active, healthy bacteria spores to the gut. In addition, the food is low-carb and packed with MEAT so you won’t be undoing all the good with a bunch of fillers and junk.
Another great option for pets is goat’s milk kefir. You can find it where yogurt is sold. Think of it as “healthy” Haagen Dazs for your pet. Start with 1-2 Tbs for a 15-30 pound pet. Build up to roughly 1/4 cup. I freeze kefir with pumpkin purée, bone broth or berries and make pupsicles. You can also drizzle it over kibble or mix with wet food for a creamy mousse. Most cats and dogs love it! -While you're at it, make yourself a little smoothie, since you need a healthy gut too! Just a warning, this can be overpowering for a small pet, always begin with a small amount.
For a delish treat, I love Bazzy’s Kefir. A frozen probiotic treat for your pup. (However, I enjoy them too.) For human’s, an alternative to ice cream is Coconut Cult’s probiotic gelato. A non-dairy, heavenly dessert that’s filled with billions of healthy probiotics. If you want a simple vitamin, Digestive Advantage by Schiff, makes yummy gummy bears packed with @GaneadenBC30! The powerhouse probiotic used in Nulo.
I believe in the next decade a huge shift will take place. Gut health will be a vital key in managing many chronic conditions. Not just for humans, but for our pets too! Why not try incorporating probiotic-rich foods into everyone’s diet! A healthy gut means a healthy body and mind! Pugs and kisses! 🐾❤️😍
*Many pets and humans can be lactose intolerant and should avoid dairy. Instead try goat’s milk or a non-dairy alternative. For more information on dairy products cluck here: Can Dogs Eat Yogurt-Dogs Naturally, September 9, 2021
The information in this article is from personal experience and backed by several research studies including: https://pets.webmd.com/dogs/foods-with-probiotics-for-dogs
This video shows you how to make a delicious, healthy Mudd Pie for cats or dogs: