Posts

Are Probiotics Good for Your Pet?

Probiotic supplements are everywhere. You may be taking one. But is it necessary to give probiotics to your dog or cat?

Probiotics are nutritional supplements that contain live microorganisms (bacteria and/or yeast) that aim to improve health and digestion. They are typically used to improve the gastrointestinal tract.

Consider a dog with diarrhea, for example. The cause could be stress, dietary indiscretion, or infection. Whatever the case may be, the diarrhea will sometimes persist even after the initial cause is resolved. The blame often lies with an imbalance between two categories of gut microorganisms:

  • those that promote normal, healthy gastrointestinal function
  • those that secrete toxins or are otherwise disruptive when they are present in larger than normal numbers

Probiotics are essentially a way of boosting the number of “good” microorganisms present in the GI tract, which helps them to out-compete the “bad” ones. It also appears that probiotics can improve canine health in other ways, including beneficially modifying an animal’s immune function.

Studies have show that probiotic supplementation can help treat infections outside of the GI tract as well as some allergic and inflammatory diseases. This isn’t too surprising, considering a large portion of the body’s immune system is associated with the gut.

One of the downsides of probiotic supplementation is the fact that the microorganisms aren’t able to effectively stay and reproduce within the GI tract for a long period of time. Noticeable benefits of probiotics tend to diminish once supplementation is stopped. For chronic disorders, probiotics often need to be given continually to maintain the benefits.

If you do have a pet with chronic issues, here are some strategies you may find helpful:

  • Many people have found that when taking probiotics themselves, they can eventually move to an every-other-day or less frequent dosing schedule. The same is most likely true for dogs. PetMD recommends following instructions according to the probiotics for the first few months, then trying a less frequent dosage.
  • Consider adding a prebiotic supplement to your dog’s diet. Prebiotics are non-digestible ingredients that support the growth of probiotic microorganisms.  Prebiotics are a way to feed the “good”microorganisms in the gut, giving them a potential advantage in their competition with the “bad” microorganisms.

Good bacteria are crucial for the health of your pet’s gut. They also support brain, digestion, assimilation of nutrients, and immune system. These reasons alone should be enough to start supplementing probiotics into your pet’s diet!

Fish Oil and Omega-3 Fats: Dietary Supplement or Dietary Dilemma?

A recent article surfaced on social media from an anonymous dog owner that noticed her three-year-old Neopolitan Mastiff became terribly lame after eating 8 fish oil tablets a day. One day, her dog had trouble rising and it was discovered that he was suffering from Vitamin E deficiency. She immediately stopped giving him fish oil supplements and switched to Vitamin E, and within a week, her dog was completely back to normal.

Should You Supplement Fish Oil for Your Pet?

In today’s modern world, supplementing your dog’s diet with omega-3 rich foods like fish oil would be a good idea, right? Well, yes. But instead of mindlessly supplementing our dog’s diet with fish oil, shouldn’t we first look at the reason why they might need it? Because, as one Neopolitan Mastiff owner found out, the descent into fish oil and omega-3 supplementation can be a slippery slope indeed.

How Do Dogs Get Omega Fats?

Sources of omega-6 fatty acids include vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds. Hopefully a small part of you thought “well that shouldn’t matter because my dog doesn’t eat vegetable oils, nuts and seeds.” Hopefully, you’re beginning to see that diets high in omega-6 fatty acids aren’t all that natural for dogs.

We all know that dogs are carnivores, right? We know that dogs don’t have any nutritional requirement for grains. Just as modern diets have caused chronic health issues in  people, they’re doing the same to our dogs. There is one really big reason why dogs need fish oil in the first place: processed dog food contains omega-6 rich plant oils and grains.

Instead of feeding our dogs fish oil, wouldn’t it be really good idea to feed them what they’re supposed to eat – and then perhaps they wouldn’t need the fish oil? Slapping a fish oil Band-Aid on a poorly constructed, processed diet certainly isn’t the best thing you can do for your dog’s health, because there are some real concerns with feeding fish oil in the long term. In the meantime, here are some important diet changes you should make for your dog before reaching for the fish oil tablets:

  • Feed your dog a meat-based diet, free of grains.
  • Avoid vegetable oils of any kind. They’re loaded with omega-6 fats and your dog doesn’t need them.
  • Look for grass-fed meats whenever possible. These will have a better balance of polyunsaturated fats.
  • Look out for vegetable oil in disguise (many ingredient lists can disguise vegetable oil as other ingredients).

 

To learn more about supplementing fish oil, click here to see the full article by Dogs Naturally Magazine.