We have all probably heard of probiotics and many of us supplement our own diets with these beneficial bacteria. But how many of us understand the relationship between prebiotics and probiotics? Furthermore, have we realized that these two elements are just as important in our pets’ diets as our own? We came across an article that we felt might be helpful in furthering our understanding that we would like to share. The article appeared in Dogs Naturally Magazine and was written by Dana Scott, Editor in Chief of the magazine. It lays out many of the benefits of probiotics in simple, easy to understand language and also explains the most effective ways to utilize them for your pet’s health and well-being. We hope you enjoy the article.
Do you give your dog probiotics? If you do, that could be a really good idea. But you could also be wasting your money. Think about this …
Let’s say you go to the pet store and buy a goldfish and a bowl. If you brought the goldfish home, put his bowl in the windowsill and just left him there for a couple of weeks, he’d die right? Now leave him in the bowl for another week or two and you’ll end up with a bowl full of one dead fish plus a bunch of algae and green weedy stuff.
You’ve just wasted a perfectly good fish … and the money you used to buy him.
Now imagine your dog’s gut is the fishbowl and the probiotics in his food are the fish. Just like the little fish in the windowsill, if you don’t feed the fish, they’ll die … and the unwanted watery weeds would take over the bowl.
You’ve just wasted your probiotics … and the money you used to buy them. But don’t worry … read on and you’ll learn how to feed the fish and make sure your dog gets the health-boosting benefits of probiotics!
Why You Need To Feed Your Dog Probiotics
If you don’t already know why you should feed your dog probiotics (also known as good or beneficial bacteria), here are a few good reasons.
- Probiotics are little chemical factories that protect the body from bacteria, viruses and fungi.
- They’re an important barrier to cancer-causing toxins, drugs, heavy metals and allergens.
- They produce the important B vitamins
- They help the body absorb nutrients like calcium, magnesium and iron.
- They help with proper digestion.
- They slow the growth of harmful bacteria, like salmonella or E coli. (Learn more about probiotics here)
In fact, the little bacteria and organisms that live in your dog are so important to his health that they outnumber his own cells 95 to 1!
But despite their importance to your dog’s health, there’s one thing probiotics can’t do: they can’t live without food.
Why Probiotics Need Prebiotics
Prebiotics are insoluble, indigestible fiber … and they’re the food probiotics need to grow. Simply stated, prebiotics are the little tins of fish food!
Without prebiotics, probiotics will be less active, less effective and can eventually die off. But if the probiotics are well-fed, they’ll grow and encourage new colonies of friendly bacteria to colonize… and soon they’ll start to crowd out the harmful bacteria.
Your dog will start to really shine with good health as his immune system starts working like a fine-tuned engine and his gut starts getting all the nutrient and vitamins out of his food, not just some of it.
So how do you know if your dog is getting those little tins of fish food?
Buy The Right Probiotic
Believe it or not, many probiotics don’t contain any prebiotics. So your dog will essentially just poop them out. Look at your jar of probiotics and make sure it also says “Contains Prebiotics” or that it lists prebiotic foods in the ingredients, like some of the natural prebiotics below. Foods like larch arabinogalactian (from the larch tree) or inulin (from chicory) are some of the additions you’ll want to look for.
5 Natural Sources Of Prebiotics
You can also add natural, prebiotic-rich foods to your dog’s diet. Here are some of the better sources:
Give up to 1 tsp of raw, organic, US grown garlic per 30 lbs of your dog’s body weight per day. You might have heard that garlic is toxic for dogs – but the devil is in the dose! As long as you don’t feed your dog heads full of it, garlic is safe and healthy for your dog.
Dandelion Greens And Other Green Leafy Vegetables
Dandelions are much more than a weed. They carry a lot of health benefits and they’re a natural prebiotic. Feed about 1 tsp of dried herb for each 20 lbs of body weight.
Bananas contain carbohydrate and sugar, so don’t overdo them. Use bananas that are still a little green. About an inch of banana per day is enough for a 50 lb dog, or half a banana a couple of times a week.
Apples are another natural prebiotic source and you can slice them up as treats or put them through your food processor. Just avoid feeding the seeds as they can cause an upset stomach in some dogs. And organic apples are always better!
Dogs love the taste of asparagus! You can chop some up raw and just add it to your dog’s bowl.
Probiotics can be an important addition to your dog’s diet, especially if he’s ever had antibiotics or drugs, if he’s ever eaten cooked or processed food or if he suffers from allergies, digestive upset or many other common immune-related health issues. You can easily bolster his health with easy-to-use probiotics. And now you know how to protect that investment by adding prebiotics too!