Prebiotics and Probiotics for Dogs: The Importance of a Healthy Balance
Humans and animals both benefit from daily supplements of prebiotics and probiotics. These dietary components aid the digestive tract, making for less discomfort and healthier digestion. However, probiotics and prebiotics have very different functions in the digestive process, which makes the balance between the two essential. To understand the benefits both can have for your pet, it is important to understand the difference between the two and how they function within your pup’s stomach. By understanding the difference, you can optimize your dog’s health in all the right ways.
The Role of Probiotics for Dogs
Probiotics are vital to a healthy digestive tract. They are beneficial bacteria, also known as “good” bacteria, that help work with the microflora within your pup’s stomach to break down and digest food.
This good bacteria also helps to keep your pup in good health by combating the harmful bacteria in his stomach that can make him sick. By providing your dog with live probiotics, you are helping to maintain a large population of good bacteria in the stomach that are working to keep your pup healthy.
The Role of Prebiotics for Dogs
Prebiotics are the substances that fuel and sustain the probiotics.
“In contrast to probiotics that are live bacteria present in food, prebiotics function by serving as a food source for the beneficial bacteria already present in the gastrointestinal tract,” says Dr. Kelly Swanson, a professor of animal sciences and division of nutritional sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Most prebiotics are fermentable fibers that break down to release essential short-chain fatty acids, which help support colon function, according to Dr. Swanson. Similar to probiotics, prebiotics help to support the immune system and limit harmful microbes. Prebiotics may also increase mineral absorption.
Dandelion greens and beet pulp are natural forms of prebiotics.
The Benefits of Combining Prebiotics and Probiotics for Dogs
Taking both prebiotic and probiotic dog supplements keep canine intestines, colon, stomach, immune system and overall digestion running well. Some products use a combination of both probiotic and a prebiotic, which according to Dr. Swanson, are known as a “synbiotic.”
When a product includes the correct balance of prebiotics and probiotics, the effectiveness of the probiotic supplement is maximized. The prebiotic increases the probiotic’s survivability and activity in the GI tract.
“Using probiotics and prebiotics together is the best way to provide your dog with proper digestion and immune system health,” Swanson says. “The probiotics and prebiotics work together by keeping positive bacteria in the stomach of canines that is needed.”
The Power of Digestive Supplements
Since probiotics are live microorganisms, they can be tricky to incorporate into kibbles. The most effective way to ensure your pup is getting the probiotics they need is to provide them with a digestive supplement.
K9 POWER’s Digestive Health Dog Supplement, for example, has a mix of high-quality prebiotics and probiotics to help support your pup’s digestive system. The prebiotics include a scientifically-optimized blend of Icelandic kelp, yucca and yeast cell wall extract to keep the probiotics fed and operating at maximum efficiency.
And if your fur baby suffers from constant stomach aches, constipation or diarrhea, these dog supplements can assist in getting these issues under control. Providing your dog with these daily additions to his food bowls is simple, but incredibly beneficial for his overall well-being and comfort. Your fur baby will be happy and healthy with this nutritional boost and all of its benefits it has to offer.
Leah McCormack is a New England native and dog lover. She graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City with her bachelor’s degree and started her animal care business, Winni Pups. Her published articles and features can be found in The Boston Globe, The EveryGirl, The Improper Bostonian, Mane Addicts, WGSN and Chewy!