Ex­plain That Buzz­word: The Low­down On Pro­bi­otics and How They Can Im­prove Your Dog’s Health

The low­down on pro­bi­otics and why they can im­prove your dog’s health

Modern Dog - - NEWS -

If you’ve ever won­dered what pro­bi­otics are and why gut health is in­creas­ingly thought to be im­por­tant for over­all health, you’re not alone. The buzz­word “pro­bi­otics” is thrown around a lot lately, with TV com­mer­cials and dairy-aisle pack­ag­ing rou­tinely tout­ing their ben­e­fits. But what ex­actly are pro­bi­otics, and what do they have to do with health and well­ness?

Ba­si­cally, pro­bi­otics are good bac­te­ria that help keep di­ges­tive tracts happy. Lest the word “bac­te­ria” scare you off, there are in fact types of bac­te­ria that are good for you, and pro­bi­otics fall into this cat­e­gory. Sim­ply put, pro­bi­otics are live micro­organ­isms, usu­ally bac­te­ria and yeasts, which are sim­i­lar to micro­organ­isms that are found in the gut, and there­fore pro­mote good gut health. (The word “pro­bi­otic” de­rives from the Greek word “pro,” mean­ing “pro­mot­ing,” and “bio,” mean­ing “life.”) Be­cause pro­bi­otics are sim­i­lar to the hard-work­ing micro­organ­isms found in the gut, con­sum­ing food or sup­ple­ments that are pro­bi­otic-rich is ex­cel­lent for the gut health of both peo­ple and dogs. It can pre­vent or treat gas­troin­testi­nal con­di­tions such as ir­ri­ta­ble bowel syn­drome, as well as im­prove over­all well­ness—gut health is in­creas­ingly thought to have far reach­ing ef­fects and has even been linked to Alzheimer’s. Car­di­ol­o­gist turned au­toim­mu­nity/microbiome ex­pert Dr. Steven Gundry re­ports that al­most all of his (hu­man) pa­tients who suf­fer from mem­ory loss also have un­der­ly­ing gut is­sues. (The ca­nine ver­sion of Alzheimer’s is Ca­nine Cog­ni­tive Dys­func­tion.)

So where can you find pro­bi­otics? For peo­ple, think sup­ple­ments, dairy prod­ucts such as yo­gurt and ke­fir, or nat­u­rally fer­mented foods in­clud­ing sauer­kraut and kim­chi. Though pups can safely en­joy plain, unsweet­ened, live cul­ture yo­gurt (try adding some to your dog’s din­ner!), pro­bi­otic sup­ple­ments for­mu­lated specif­i­cally for dogs are best; this way, you can be sure that the pro­bi­otics sur­vive long enough to ben­e­fit your dog’s di­ges­tive tract.

Where else can you find pro­bi­otics? In­creas­ingly, they’re be­ing used in non-food prod­ucts, from kitty lit­ter to dog-bed fab­rics, where they fight odours nat­u­rally. They’re also mak­ing a wel­come ap­pear­ance in groom­ing prod­ucts too. Sk­out’s Hon­our has a new groom­ing line called Pro­bi­otic Skin Care For Pets that con­tains pro­bi­otics to im­prove skin health and nat­u­rally pro­tect your dog’s coat. The top­i­cal pro­bi­otics in their sham­poos and conditioners re­duce in­flam­ma­tion and boost the skin’s nat­u­ral de­fenses, re­duc­ing shed­ding and solv­ing skin prob­lems like itch­ing and hot spots. It’s pro­bi­otics for the win, in­side and out!

Bonus Term! Pre­bi­otics are like food for pro­bi­otics. These non-di­gestible car­bo­hy­drates give pro­bi­otics the best chance for sur­vival as they move through the stom­ach. Good sources in­clude ba­nanas and whole grains!

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