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Thursday, 17 May 2012

How to Choose a Good Probiotic Supplement for Your Dog


Not all probiotics sold for dogs are affective or safe for your dog. Probiotic supplements for dogs are not considered a drug - as such, in many countries, including Canada and the USA probiotics are not regulated. 

Manufacturers are free to do as they please and many do - cutting corners to increase profit leaving ethics far behind. Impurities can make their way into product and that the product may not even contain live, or enough species and strains of viable bacteria to have an beneficial efficacy. Attractive labels are not an indication of quality, nor is price. To protect your dog and spend your dollars wisely you need to know how to select a truly good product. So let’s take a look at what you should be clearly identified on the product label or available through inquiry with the manufacturer...
 
Species/Strains 
You need to know what probiotics are included in the product. Each species and strain should be noted. So you know what to look for here is an example - remember a good supplement should have at least 10 such strains.

For this example we will use Lactobacillus acidophilus. 

  • Lactobacillus is the genus;
  • acidphilus is the species, and; 
  • DDS-1 is the strain.

The product should include at least 10 of the above examples. The more strains the better as diversity will ensure that the good flora in your dog’s GI tract is varied enough to protect against all of the bad strains of bacteria. Research has shown that to achieve truly beneficial results the presence of at least 10 strains is required.

Here are a few examples of why diversity in strains is so important…
  • L. plantarum fights viral infections, cancer;
  • L. salivarius fights fungal infections such as candidia; helps the digestive system break down undigested protein and detoxifies the GI tract, may prevent colon cancer;
  • Lactic Streptococci protects against colitis and IBD (irritated bowl disease);
  • Lactobacillus caucasicus fights diarrhea;
  • Lactobacillus GG (L. rhamnosus), protects against respiratory illnesses, treats candida, colitis and diarrhea, reduces stress and anxiety.
 
CFU (Colony Forming Units)
The label should identify:
  • The number of CFUs (live microorganisms) per gram;
  • The number of CFU’s per serving;

What Are CFUs?
CFU is an acronym for colony-forming units, which are a scientific measurement of the viable microbes (bacteria) in a probiotic. .

Affective CFUs per Gram
Make sure that the supplement you purchase contains at least 20 million CFUs per gram - a product that contains billions of CFUs is however more desirable.

Probiotics (good bacteria) live and provide their beneficial function in the large intestine. In order to reach the large intestine the bacteria must pass through the very acidic environment of the stomach and small intestine. During this journey some of the bacteria die, but most do survive. In order to ensure that enough of the bacteria make it to the large intestine a dog needs to ingest billions of viable (intact and fully functioning) bacteria. The number of live bacteria is measured as the number of colony-forming units - commonly noted as CFU per gram of probiotic.

If the product labelling lists the CFU’s in scientific lingo you may see this:
One million CFUs/gram will be noted as 1 x 106 CFU;
One billion CFUs/gram will be noted as 1 x 109 CFU.

Suggested daily serving/dosage size
The label should clearly provide directions regarding daily serving/dosage of the product.

Health Benefits
An explanation of what the product can do for your dog

Best Before Date or Expiration Date
If the product label does not have an expiration date do not purchase it. Viable live bacteria do have a shelf life and you need to know when the product is no longer at maximum efficacy. If no expiration date is provided it is a pretty good indicator that the probiotics in the supplement are not really probiotic!

Required Storage Conditions
Where the product should be stored to ensure maximum survival of the probiotic

Corporate Contact Information
Who manufacturers the product;
Who to contact for additional information.

Does The Product Meet or Exceeds GMP Requirements
Just because a manufacturer says the product is probiotic does not mean that it is a probiotic. Some products labelled ‘probiotic’ do not include any clinically validated strains. Tests carried out on multiple products have revealed that many manufactures and retailers are selling probiotic supplements that do not include ingredients as noted on the product label and/or include dangerous contaminants. To make sure you are purchasing quality, look for products that meet or exceed the ‘Good Manufacturing Products’ (GMP) ISO Requirements. This may not be noted on the label, so you may have to contact the manufacturer or look on-line. 

And One More Thing That You May Want To Consider... 

Avoid purchasing supplements from manufacturer’s that do invasive and harmful testing on dog’s and other animals. Many pet food and pet pharmaceutical companies carry out invasive and lethally harmful testing of their products on dogs and other animals. Do your research and purchase a quality product that has not been developed at the cost of dogs’ lives. As an example, Ralston-Purina, the manufacturer of Forti-Flora routinely do invasive and harmful testing on dogs after which they kill many of the dogs they test their products on. 


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Probiotics for Dogs, Essential for Optimal Health - What, Why, When and How




Probiotics for Dogs, Essential for Optimal Health - What, Why, When and How


 
The Definition of Probiotics 

The original meaning of the word probiotic is ‘benficial to life’. Probiotics are live microorganisms which when ingested in appropriate amounts (not to little, not too much) are beneficial to the host and help prevent disease…and in the case of this discussion ‘host’ is defined as dog! 

These micororganisims are live, friendly bacteria that live in the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract). Dogs have over 500 types of bacteria living in their GI tract, humans have just over 400. The most common good bacteria are L. acidophilus and Bifidobacterua bifidum.

The Benefits of Probiotics

Probiotics can play a huge role in protecting your dog’s immune system. The good bacteria found in probiotics fight the un-friendly, 1pathogenic bacteria that are also found in the GI tract.

 

The skin and the mucous membrane linings of the gastrointestinal, genitourinary and respiratory tracts are the first line of defense against invasion of microbes and parasites - the GI tract is the largest of these barriers.

When a dog does not have enough good bacteria residing in his/her GI tract, the bad bacteria flourish unchecked and take over - this condition can cause:

  • Cadidiasis (overgrowth of Candida albicans, a bad bacteria that causes yeast infections);
  • Digestive upset due to E. coli, which causes diarhea;
  • Lethargy.

On a daily basis physiological (real or perceived physical threat) and psychological (emotional threats i.e. anxiety) stress can cause fluctuations in the balance between good and bad bacteria in the GI tract.

Probiotics give the naturally occurring good bacteria found in the GI tract a population boost which in turn

  • Alleviates and helps prevent constipation, diarrhea and IBS;
  • Enhances immune system response (thus helping to fight cancer and other diseases, illness, viruses);
  • Encourages anti-tumour and anti-cancer activity in the body;
  • Increases the ability to absorb and utilize nutrients such as B complex vitmens, calcium, copper, iron, phosperous, zinc;
  • Increases the GI tract’s ability to digest food;
  • Helps fight bad breath; 
  • Helps reduce gas and reduces the odour of stools;
  • Helps prevent shedding and scratching caused by stress when GI tract good flora is compromised;
  • Helps in the fight against anxiety and depression;
  • Replenishes the good bacteria that are killed-off when taking antibiotics;
  • Reduces incidence of yeast infections (Candida), yeast related rashes and skin problems.
  • Replenishes good flora killed-off by antibiotics.

It is important to note that antibiotics are the premier over-subscribed drug for both humans and dogs alike. Enabling your dog’s immune system to work at optimum capacity helps to ensure that your dog will not require antibiotics. 

The two biggest issues with antibiotics are:

One - Antibiotics kill the kill the beneficial bacteria (in your dog's GI tract) not just the  pathogenic bacteria. When this occurs the delicate but healthy balance of the tract is disrupted which can lead to the overgrowth of yeast enabling the formation of yeast colonies. Yeast bacteria (hyphae) can bore holes through the lining of the intestinal wall - resulting in a condition called 'leaky gut'. This leaves your dog susceptible to a wide spectrum of health problems such as:
  • Allergies;
  • Arthritis;
  • Asthma;
  • Autoimmune Disorders (when the body mistakenly attacks healthy body tissue);
  • Digestive problems;
  • Kidney Problems, and;
  • Skin Problems.

Two - The more antibiotics your dog takes the more your dog’s risk of immunity to antibiotics rises. This can put your dog in grave and mortal danger. In addition, the over use of antibiotics has resulted in the appearance and increase of 1MRSA in dogs. 

To lesson the chance of your dog having to take antibiotics: 

When Should your Dog Take Probiotics?

Probiotics are essential to the maintenance of optimal health therefore...

  1. Probiotics should be included as part of a healthy puppy, teenage and adult dog’s daily diet;

  2. If your dog is on antibiotics you should be supplementing your dog’s diet with Probiotics as antibiotics kill bacteria in the GI tract - bad flora and good flora alike, which puts your dog’s immune system at risk;

  3. Your dog will be better protected against the side affects of other common stressors (such as vaccinations) when he/she has a back-up system to replace good GI tract flora.
 When Should Your Dog Not Take Probiotics?

If your dog is undergoing treatment for disease (i.e. cancer and is receiving chemotherapy) taking probiotics may be too much for the dog’s weakened system. If your dog is suffering from any disease you must speak to your veterinarian before adding any supplement such as probiotics to your dog’s diet.

Don’t Be Fooled By Advertising

Many dog food manufactures promote their kibble, canned food and treat products as containing probiotics.

To be effective, probiotics must be live. The beneficial micro-organisms and probiotics required by the GI tract are susceptible to heat damage. Most commercially made dry pet food is sterilised or pasteurized - canned food is prepared using dry heat. The only way in which the manufacturers can add probiotics to these foods is by coating the products with a liquid or powder after processing is complete. This presents two fundamental problems:

  • The coating is inconsistent, and;
  • Preservation of the probiotic is difficult.
Advertising that the food contains probiotics is just a means to market the product, however the actual benefit derived from the 'probiotics' added to these foods is minimal if any.

In order to ingest enough probiotics on a daily basis your dog requires a high quality concentrated source of probiotics.

Options for Providing Probiotics to Your Dog

  1. You can purchase probiotic supplements, or;
  2. You can feed your dog food that is rich in naturally occurring probiotics.

Probiotic Supplements:
Probiotic Supplements for dogs are not regulated in many countries. Like everything else in the pet food industry, not all probiotic supplements are created equal, therefore you really need to know how to choose a good supplement.  

There are some very good probiotic supplements among the many average and poor ones - to identify the good supplements you really need to know what to look for. Do you know how to tell which of the supplements shown below is a really good product, which are average and which provide little benefit?

Beware! Just because a manufacturer says the product is probiotic does not mean that it is a probiotic.  
 
Some products labelled ‘probiotic’ do not include any clinically validated strains. Tests carried out on multiple products have revealed that many manufactures and retailers are selling probiotic supplements that do not include ingredients as noted on the product label and/or include dangerous contaminants. Another thing to keep in mind - a probiotic supplement is not cheap to purchase, especially if you have multiple dogs.

If you would like to understand how to choose a good probiotic supplement you can read this article

Foods That Are Rich in Naturally Occurring Probiotics
You can make sure that your dog receives very high quality probiotics by adding these dog-safe amazing foods to your dog’s diet…

1. Kefir



2. Sauerkraut


If you would like to learn about the amazing benefits of these two foods and how to incorporate them into your dog's diet, etc. you can read this article.



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  • In-Person sessions - information and payment here >>.
  • On-Line consultation and sessions - information and payment here >>.

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Notes

1 Pathogenic -  causing disease or able to cause disease.

2MRSA - Methicillin-resistant Staphyloccus aureus. Staphyloccus aureus (commonly known as staph) is a naturally occurring and present bacteria found in the GI tract, on the skin and in mucous membranes. Genetic mutation can occur in the staph bacteria making it resistant to even the strongest antibiotics. If your dog becomes ill he/she may die if infection cannot be staved off with an alternative method.