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So, you’re looking to boost your dog’s health using a prebiotic for dogs or a probiotic for dogs. Your interest in your dog’s gut health is already the sign of an excellent, caring pet parent! However, which supplement is best for your pup? What’s the difference exactly, between prebiotics and probiotics for dogs…?
Probiotics are essential for maintaining a healthy digestive tract. We all have bacteria in our gastrointestinal tract (GI Tract) and gut (humans, animals, and insects, that is!) – most of it is really important, the good stuff that keeps our digestive health in optimum condition. Probiotics refer to the microbes (the bacteria/yeast) that dwell in the gut. There are literally billions of them, and they work to sustain the immune system, prevent bad bacteria from taking over, aid in healthy digestion, and make vital vitamins and nutrients for the body to use.
The good bacteria that live in your pup’s GI tract are called commensal bacteria and these are necessary for the healthy functioning of their digestive system. When we supplement with probiotics, we add cultures of these good bacteria and so we ensure the number of good bacteria present in the gut is kept at a desirable level. These include Lactobacillus reuteri, Bifidobacterium bifidum & longum, Lactobacillus bravis and Streptococcus thermophilus.
Prebiotics are the fuel for probiotics! Essentially, food for your gut’s good bacteria! That’s right, probiotics need food to thrive - they’re living organisms! Most prebiotics are fermentable fibers that break down and release short-chain, vital fatty acids which help support the healthy functioning of the colon, the immune system, and prevent bad bacteria from developing. They’re resistant to stomach acid, so are able to make their way down the large intestine for the good bacteria to utilize without too much disturbance. They are also thought to promote the body’s ability at absorbing minerals!
Petlab Co Pro Tip: Prebiotics are naturally present in bananas, broccoli, and blueberries so you can feed your dog small amounts of these foods to help the good bacteria in their gut thrive!
Both humans and dogs can benefit from supplements, and it’s actually advisable to take both probiotics and prebiotics! Supplementing both can help keep your doggo’s stomach, intestine, colon, and both digestive and immune system running at an optimum level. Feeding your pooch prebiotics for dogs directly helps increase the survivability of the probiotics present in their GI tract. And, when the digestive system constitutes 70% of the body’s immune system, why wouldn’t you want to make sure your precious pup is protected from harmful viruses and bad bacteria build up?
Prebiotics and probiotics really harmonize well together when it comes to replenishing the gut’s healthy, essential bacteria. So, if you want the best for your pooch, it’s actually really worth supplementing both!
"Probiotics are great for preventing a dysbiosis (a shift/imbalance in bacterial populations) after a course of antibiotics, stress, toxin ingestion, certain medications or for recovery from health challenges. These may wipe out the normal bacterial flora and shift the microbiome causing diarrhoea, bloating, and in some cases metabolic toxicity. Moreover, dogs suffering from any chronic or inflammatory enteropathy (gut disease) usually have a microbiome misbalance as a result. There may be too few or too many bacteria, too much of one specific bacteria, or just the wrong amounts of each commensal bacterial species. This is why probiotics are an important part of your treatment plan as they will help fight pathogens and help diversify the bacterial flora alongside a healthy diet."
So, there we have it: the differences between probiotics for dogs and prebiotics for dogs cleared up and some clarity on why marrying both together in your dog’s supplement routine is a great, caring pet parent move!
The signs that your pup may need some additional support with their gut health include bouts of diarrhea, irregular bowel movements, abnormal fecal consistency or difficulty defecating, frequently seeming under the weather and/or generally having a low mood. So, introducing both prebiotics for dogs and probiotics for dogs may be a great first step toward improvement! However, always check with your vet to be sure any signs of tummy trouble are not an underlying, undiagnosed health issue first.