To put it simply, probiotics are beneficial bacteria naturally found within the gut and certain food products, harvested and grown in a lab, and then re-introduced to the gastrointestinal tract. This re-colonization of good bacteria helps to support a healthy GI tract, immune system, nutrient absorption, and coat.
Now, I know what you're thinking. Why go through all of that scientific effort to put a few extra germs in my fur-baby's belly?
We are in the golden age of probiotic understanding and are learning more and more every day about how important the second brain (the gut) is. So far, scientists have identified many probiotic strains that may offer some form of benefit for you or your little fur-friend.
While our probiotic knowledge is a treasure, many dogs still deal with an array of tummy issues from their poorly formulated dog food, the overuse of antibiotics, foreign bacteria entering their system from their favorite household nook and cranny, or even old age.
Often times, we can pick up what their grumpy gut is putting down through their overabundance of vomit-inducing flatulence.
If you have ever dealt with an extra flatulent night from your dog or a day filled with liquid bowel movement potty breaks, chances are that you've come face to face with an out of whack GI tract (and that nose singeing smell that seems to linger for hours).
While some disagree about the best probiotic for dogs to have, giving your fur-ball a combination of strains is a great way to ensure the GI tract is properly colonized by a diverse set of bacteria that work together to bring your little buddy the ultimate tummy wellness.
Fidobiotics believes that through education and well-deserved knee-slapping humor, we can bring about a new age of wellness for dogs and cats across the world. We have dissected an assortment of probiotic strains we use below.
L. Plantarum is a unique member of the Lactobacillus family. Studies have shown that L. Plantarum may lead to the production of antibiotics within the body as well as lysine - an amino acid that promotes healthy digestion.
L. plantarum is also unique in its resiliency. Similar to Lactobacillus acidophilus, L. plantarum can last quite a while within the GI tract and survive from ingestion to elimination. Unlike L. acidophilus, L. plantarum is not one to colonize, it does the bulk of its work in the trip it takes from mouth to down south.
Scientists have found that an ideal temperature for L. plantarum is near body-temperature, making it an ideal bacteria for the body.
The other major group of probiotic strains is known as Bifidobacterium. So, what differentiates it from the better known Lactobacillus?
Well, for starters, bifidobacteria make up the vast majority of microflora within the gut - compared to lactobacillus making up only 1% of of that amount. From that, we can gleam that Bifidobacterium strains have long lived within the body and are adept at surviving a variety of conditions within the GI tract.
Lactobacillus strains does its work by metabolizing foods within the GI tract to produce hydrogen peroxide and lactic acid, bifidobacterium strains break foods down to produce acetic and lactic acid, both of which work to support healthy digestion and promote a healthy immune system.
B. Lactis/ B. Animalis
While the scientific community sees the distinction between B. lactis and B. animalis, many group them together, as the research on their purported biological interactions and benefits are one in the same. B. Lactis/B. animalis is similar to L. plantarum in that is regarded as one of the more resilient transient probiotic strains.
It is adept at survival, being found in the colon and intestines in large numbers where it works to promote healthy nutrient absorption. Scientific studies have proven that B. Lactis/B. animalos promotes a healthy immunity, supports healthy digestion and healthy cholesterol levels. B. Lactis/B. animalis can be found in the body as well as unpasteurized milk and cheese.
Streptococcus is the third family of probiotic strains. Streptococcus Thermophilus is known as one of the more potent and powerful probiotic strains and has been well researched. S. thermophilus is most readily available within the colon. It is best known for its role in supporting a healthy colon, GI tract, and immune system.
When colonizing the body, S. thermophilus produces lactase, supporting the host's ability to properly digest milk products. Like L. plantarum, S. thermophilus has the purported benefit of producing an antibiotic as a byproduct, supporting a healthy immune system. S. thermophilus is used for culturing cheese as well as yogurt.
The Best Probiotic For Your Dog
So, after all of that, can we make a distinction on which strain you should be targeting when shopping for your dog or cat's tangled up tummy?
Our recommendation, find a product that contains a combination of these probiotic strains, as the diversity will cover the most bases!
Does Human-Grade Matter?
Yes, human-grade absolutely matters! Human-grade means every ingredient is human-grade, as opposed to feed-grade where none or only some ingredients are human-grade.
In the world of pet supplements, corner cutters are lurking in the shadows with their bright boxes and product promises. If it is not human-grade or NASC approved, the products may not be held to the same standard. This lack of regulation may result in a lower than promised CFU count or overall product effectiveness.
When you can, ensure that the probiotic product you are using has an NASC seal of approval, a listed CFU count (between 500 million - 20 billion). The product should ideally include some form of desiccation, a prebiotic, and digestive enzymes.
What Is Desiccation?
Ever remember picking those silica packets out of new shoes or cotton balls out of pill bottles? Both of these are forms of desiccation, meaning that they aid in preventing moisture from entering the product. Probiotics 'begin their life' once they are activated by moisture and/or temperature. With that said, it is very important to keep these little guys as dry as possible until ingestion.
Fidobiotics products contain a state of the art desiccated vial, keeping these superhero germs alive for longer so they can keep Fido's belly happy and healthy!
Probiotics are living creatures, just like you, me, and The Sasquatch. Like The Sasquatch, probiotics need food to survive. This is where prebiotics come in. They act as a fuel and as a vehicle to keep the bacteria alive to the point where they can properly colonize the body.
Why Digestive Enzymes?
While digestive enzymes do not colonize the body quite like probiotics, they do play a key role in keeping the light green in the highly traffic'd part of the GI tract. If your dog has a meat-based allergy, look for digestive enzymes sourced from plants.