Kefir and fresh sauerkraut are inexpensive, readily available and are two of the best sources of viable, high quality probiotics - in fact both of these foods contain more strains of bacteria and more probiotics than most supplements.
Sauerkraut typically contains 13 strains of bacteria and about 100 times more probiotics than most probiotoc supplements. Kefir typically contains about 10 strains and 5 billion beneficial bacteria. Only the best of Probiotic Supplements for dogs can match these two foods! Your dog gets all of the health benefits at a fraction of the cost of prepared supplements.
Kefir is a creamy, dairy based food made from the milk of cows or goats, sheep, coconut milk, rice or 1soy. Kefir is one of the oldest forms of cultured milk. Although it is similar to yogurt, kefir provides even more health benefits than yogurt.
History of Kefir
The use of Kefir dates back about 2000 years. It was developed by shepherds in the Caucasian Mountains. The shepherds carried fresh milk in leather pouches - on occasion the milk would ferment into grains and result in an effervescent beverage. The grains were considered precious. Upon discovery, the people of the mountain learned to culture kefir by talking the kefir grains and mixing them with fresh, raw, cow or goat milk which they left in goatskin leather bags to ferment. If you would like to learn more about the history of kefir you can check this site out.
Active Ingredients in Kefir
Fermented milk results in the formulation of ‘gains’ that look like small cauliflower florettes. The kefir grains are made up of casein and gelatinous colonies of friendly (beneficial) bacteria - predominantly Lactic Streptococci, Lactobacillus caucasicus, Leuconnostoc species, Saccharomyces kefir, Torula kefir. In addition the kernels include some yeast. Kefir is the only cultured milk product that has more than three types of beneficial mico-organisms, typically averaging about 10 strains of bacteria.Benefits of Kefir
Lb. casei ssp.alactosus
Lb. casei ssp. rhamnosus
Lb. delbrueckii ssp. lactis
Lb. delbrueckii ssp. bulgaricus
Lb. helveticus ssp. lactis
Lb. kefirgranum sp. no
Lb parakefir sp. nov.
Lc. lactis ssp. lactis
Lc. lactis var. diacetylactis
Lc. lactis ssp. cremoris
S. salivarius ssp. thermophilus
K. fragilis / marxianus Kluyveromyces lactis
Kluyveromyces marxianus var. marxianus
Typically one tablespoon of kefir contains 5 billion beneficial bacteria. As a rich and concentrated source of beneficial bacteria the probiotics found in Kefir contribute to health in a wide variety of ways:
- Contains a substantial amount of B Complex vitamins, Calcium, vitamin A, Vitamin D, magnesium, phosphorus;
- Contains tyrptophan, and essential amino acid;
- Helps prevents illness;
- Is easily digestible;
- Is excellent for the immune system;
- Natural antibiotic and anti-fungal properties;
- Promotes anti-cancer and anti-tumour activity in the body;
- Promotes the faster healing of wounds;
Sugar and artificial sweeteners are not good for dogs or cats so make sure you purchase plain, natural kefir.
How to Introduce Kefir to Your Dog’s Diet
As with any new foodstuff that you introduce to your dog’s and cat's diet you should go slow. The probiotics in kefir are highly concentrated so give your dog’s and cat's system time to adjust. For the first few days to a week cut the recommended dosage in half. This will avoid stomach upset as your dog’s and cat's system adjusts to the increased quantity of good flora in their GI tract. You can bring the daily dosage up to the recommended amount over the space of a few days to a week or two. If your dog has a negative reaction to the new food stop providing the food to your dog. All of my dogs get kefir, sauerkraut and yogurt on a daily basis. None of my 10 dogs have ever had a negative reaction to any of these food stuffs.
Recommended Daily Intake of Kefir or Yogurt
- 1x to 2x per day:
- X-Small size dogs and cats - 1 tsp to 1 tbs
- Small dogs - 1 tbs to 2 tbs
- Medium size dogs - 1/4 cup
- Large dogs - 1/3 cup to 3/8 cup
- Extra large dogs - 1/2 cup
You can read more about the health benefits of kefir and yogurt here .
DIY Nutritious Treats Made with Yogurt and Cheese
- DIY Smoothies & Frozen Treats for Dogs and Cats – Nutrient Rich Refreshing Relief During Hot Weather - recipes and health benefits here.
Sauerkraut is made by: combining finely shredded fresh cabbage and salt (about 1.5% salt), then packing the resulting mixture into an airtight container and allowing it to ferment for three days at 23 degrees Celsius and then for an additional eight weeks at a cooler temperature.
History of Sauerkraut
Although many people think of sauerkraut as a German invented foodstuff, its true origins are thought to be ancient China. The Chinese have been fermenting cabbage since 200 BC. Over 2,000 years ago, Chinese labourers responsible for building the Great Wall of China ate sauerkraut as part of their daily diet - that early version was made using rice-wine. It is assumed that sauerkraut made its way to Europe 1000 years later during the 13th century when Gengis Kahn plundered China. The Romans carried barrels of sauerkraut on long campaigns - feeding it to soldiers in order to prevent intestinal infections. The Dutch sea faring traders ate sauerkraut on a regular basis as it could be easily kept on board ship, do not require refrigeration and helped to prevent scurvy due to its high vitamin C content. Captain James Cooke followed the example of the Dutch sailors.
Active Ingredients in Sauerkraut
Sauerkraut is a dense source of a wide range of benefical lactic acid bacteria. The predominate bacteria in sauerkraut is Lactobacillus plantarum. While commercially produced sauerkraut does retain these valuable properties, fresh sauerkraut is higher in beneficial organisms. Sauerkraut typically contains 13 strains of bacteria and about 100 times more probiotics than most supplements while being a lot less expensive! If you are purchasing rather than making your own sauerkraut, make sure it is in the refrigerated section of the store to ensure that it contains live bacteria.
One of the best ways to ensure that you are providing your dog with fresh, probiotic sauerkraut is to make it yourself! If you would like to see some simple but very good sauerkraut recipes you can read this article. Sauerkraut is quick, easy and very inexpensive to make.
Benefits of Sauerkraut
Aids in the digestion process;
Boosts the immune system;
Helps prevent cancer (sauerkraut contains compounds called isothiocyanates which protect against cancer);
Fights E. Coli, salmonella and candida;
Has anti-inflammatory properties (inflammation can cause some cancers);
High in Vitamin A, B, C and E;
High in Minerals calcium and magnesium, folate, iron, potassium, copper and manganese;
High in phytonutirent antioxidants;
Helps alleviate anxiety and depression;
It helps generate omega-3 fatty acids;
It can help reduce allergy symptoms;
It is very low in fat and calories.
Each batch of fresh, raw sauerkraut contains different species of beneficial probiotics in different proportions. The table below provides a list of the bacteria species found in sauerkraut.
- Lactobacillus brevis
- Lactobacillus plantarum
- Leuconostoc mesenteroides, - Pediococcus pentosaceus
- Lactobacillus coryniformis
- Lactobacillus curvatus
- Lactobacillus sakei
- Lactococcus lactis subsp lactis
- Lactobacillus paraplantarum
- Leuconostoc argentinum
- Leuconostoc citreum
- Leuconostoc fallax
- Weissella species
In addition, 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of fresh sauerkraut contains…
15 mg Vitamin C
.21mg Vitamin B6
1.5mg Vitamin K
Alcohol is poisonous to dogs so do not purchase wine sauerkraut. Make sure you purchase or make water based sauerkraut rather than wine based sauerkraut.
How to Introduce Sauerkraut to Your Dog’s Diet
As with any new foodstuff that you introduce to your dog’s diet you should go slow. The probiotics in sauerkraut are highly concentrated so give your dog’s system time to adjust. For the first few days to a week cut the recommended dosage in half. This will avoid stomach upset as your dog’s system adjusts to the increased quantity of good flora in their GI tract. You can bring the daily dosage up to the recommended amount over the space of a few days to a week or two. If your dog has a negative reaction to the new food stop providing the food to your dog. All of my dogs get kefir, sauerkraut and yogurt on a daily basis. None of my 10 dogs have ever had a negative reaction to any of these food stuffs.
Recommended Minimum Daily Intake of Sauerkraut
- Small size dogs - ½ tsp to 1 tbs
- Medium size dogs - 1tbs to 2 tbs
- Large dogs - 2 tbs to 3 tbs
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1 If you live in North America, do not purchase kefir made from soy. 99% of soy grown in North America is derived from genetically modified (GM) seeds. GM Round-up Ready Crops are a broad-spectrum systemic herbicide used to kill weeds. The long-term health affects of ingesting GM foods is suspected of causing serious health problems. Numerous studies on animals suggest reproductive problems as a side effect of glyphosate exposure. In addition GM crops are seriously detrimental to soil health, and the health of important insects such as bees.
As well, large factory farms use a method to process soy that leaves it very high in photoestrogens. Photoestrogens have been proven to interfere with reproduction and thyroid function. Factory farming processing methods for soy also result in a product that is very high in phytates. Phytates prevent mineral absorption as well as substances that prevent the normal function of enzymes required to digest protein. And one last thumbs down for large factory farm produced soy - it has one of the highest concentrations of pesticides found in North American crops. Traditional methods of processing soy by fermentation (as employed in Japan and China) greatly reduces photoestrogens, and phytates, thus making consumption of the resulting soy, safe and nutritional.