Prebiotics Support Your Dog’s Inner Strength

Prebiotics Support Your Dog’s Inner Strength

During any given week, your inquisitive dog has probably explored your house and neighborhood, which means it comes into regular contact with everything from dog park soil to favorite canine lampposts, all of which can harbor germs. Your dog’s immune system works to combat these invaders, and dog food with ingredients called “prebiotics” can now strengthen that defense.

Prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients that stimulate the growth and activity of digestive-system bacteria that are beneficial to your dog’s health. For the first time, they are now available in both wet and dry high-quality dog foods. Dr. Amy Dicke, an Ohio-based veterinarian, explains more about what prebiotics are and how they work.

Prebiotics in Dog Food
While certain dog foods now have the word “prebiotics” on the front label, check the product’s ingredient list. Look for the long word “fructooligosaccharides,” or FOS for short. Foods with this word have one of the best prebiotics now available. Although the name seems very scientific, it actually refers to a fiber, according to Dicke. “FOS is found naturally in certain fruits, vegetables and grains,” she explains. “However, the concentration is typically very low and does not provide the desired health benefits.”

How Prebiotics Work

Sixty-five percent of your dog’s immune system is in its digestive tract. To infect your dog’s body, germs and other invaders must break through a mucous membrane barrier of cells lining the gut. Like a wall, this barrier can prevent unwanted organisms from moving into the body.

When FOS is broken down, it produces short-chain fatty acids, which serve as food or energy for the cells of the mucosal barrier, promoting their health and integrity. An increasing population of beneficial bacteria help to crowd out bad bacteria through physical competition for space and nutrients, as well as producing substances detrimental to the undesirable bacteria.

Health Benefits of Prebiotics

Beyond supporting the immune system, prebiotics may also lead to other health benefits in your dog. Research on humans, who use prebiotics in a similar way, found that prebiotics appear to reduce inflammation. “Just as some foods can lead to poor health, it’s no surprise that others can have positive effects,” said Dr. Louis Montaner, editor of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, which recently published a study on prebiotics.

Prebiotics have also been shown to cut the development of skin allergies in human babies. A study in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood reported that prebiotics -- very similar to those found in breast milk -- ward off a dangerous form of dermatitis. Puppies receive comparable prebiotics from their mothers when they nurse, so it’s possible that prebiotics in dog food help prevent skin and coat problems in adult dogs.

How to Begin Feeding a Dog Food Containing Prebiotics

If your dog is not currently eating a food that contains prebiotics and you’d like to make the switch, there should be a transition period of mixing the new food with your dog’s current diet. Here’s a sample feeding schedule over a week’s time:

  • Day 1 and 2: Feed approximately one-fourth of new food mixed with three-fourths of current food.
  • Days 2 and 3: Mix half of old food with half of new food.
  • Days 4 to 6: Give your dog three-fourths of the new prebiotics-containing food and one-fourth of its former chow.
  • Day 7: Begin feeding your dog 100 percent of the new product.

Are Prebiotics Suitable for All Dogs?
According to Dicke, prebiotics can be beneficial to nearly all dogs. “There are times during your pet’s life when dietary FOS may even have greater value,” she added. Dogs that may especially need the immunity boost of prebiotics include:

  • Weaned puppies with developing immune systems
  • Dogs with certain chronic medical conditions
  • Pregnant females
  • Older dogs that may suffer from decreased immune system function

Consult with your veterinarian to see what he or she recommends. If your dog has a serious weight or medical condition, it might require a special veterinarian formula food to address its particular needs.

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Posted on March 11, 2012

Timoteo says: Darcie.I, for one, hcoose you, and your way, and I hcoose SitStay as a source of good, safe products. I will buy everything from you that I can. I will (and always have) read your blog, and take your wisdom to heart. I will pass your wisdom on, and let others know about your company. I don't know what problems you are currently having, but I would hate for there not to be a SitStay out there, where I could be sure that the things I buy for my dogs are good for my dogs. What else can I (we) do to make things better?Don't take the hateful things that people say to heart. The twisted souls who attack you are just out to hurt, and no one who knows you pays them any mind. Cry if you must, but I'd rather you didn't give them that much power. Hold your head up and be proud of the good that you do. Your decisions are always made with the dogs first in your heart. That's what it's all about. Thanks for all you have done, and will do.

Posted on March 10, 2012

Erica says: (Paperback) This book is NOT just for people who vleiebe holistic is the only way to go! So although many reviewers write from that perspective, I strongly suggest that people who love traditional medicine consider it because it provides clear explanations of how a dog's system works, the functions of the organs, and what the various nutrients do in and for the dog. It also provdes an excellent explanation of each section of a blood test or urine test and what the results *mean.* And, it has simple but very complete charts in the back which cover various things from *both* the traditional and the holistic points of view in causes and treatments.What made me respect this book was that they offer traditional medicine causes and effects, tests and medications, treatments and solutions as well as holistic ones. So, both sides can get plenty out of it, and perhaps learn something from the beliefs of the other side too to get a much more balanced picture of what is going on with their dog. It is not as simple as most of the consumer oriented books, but it is also not as complex as reading the veterinary medicine web sites. It definitely provides more detail than you may be accustomed to in a pet health book.It provides a good base to research from so you can go look at traditional and alternative medicine web sites and know what the heck you're looking for.If you don't care for the diet they recommend, or any other holistic parts, you can easily ignore them. It's a good reference book, and if you are the type who wants to be really involved in your dog's care and want to know more than what the vet told you, then get this book. You can find out what you need to know in order to ask the vet good questions and be able to insist on good answers (not just a quick answer, but one that means something to you).I highly recommend this book whether you prefer traditional, holistic, or a blend of veterinary medicine styles.Whatever you do, though, if you think your dog has a problem, find a darned good vet and go there now. If you feel uncomfortable or confused, or hope there are more options out there, get a second opinion from another primary vet, or ask for a referral to a specialist. Any good vet will gladly refer you to a specialist regardless of whether he thinks you really need one. You are your pet's only human voice. Be in charge and be responsible and don't give up until you have the information you need.

Posted on March 11, 2012

Saka says: This association's aivdce on tackling a simple case of play biting in a puppy is thus I teach the scruff and cuff'. It must occur within 1/2 second of the protest and must end the discussion'. That means taking hold of the pup by its neck scroff/collar behind the ears and lifting the front just enough for the weight to come off the pup's front paws. My right hand sneaks up under the jaw and cuffs it. This is done with an open hand and stiffened fingers, enough to cause a submissive reaction. I don't let go of the scruff until this has occured. Sometimes a pup will come back at the person giving the correction. This indicates that the cuff was inadequate and the dog thought you were baiting or flanking' it so to speak. That cuff needs to be swift and forceful enough to slightly startle the pup. Too little is as bad as too much. A calm, quiety warning growl should accompany the correction .What a dangerously silly piece of aivdce. Not to mention a long winded explanation!Do they do the same when a baby grabs their hair? We talking puppies!I'm glad you highlighted this prehistoric group Jean!

Posted on November 30, 2011

Franci says: I love your Iams Dog Food!

Posted on July 8, 2011

Pamela says: Do you have any dry doog food that is good for sensitive skin and stomach?

Posted on August 10, 2011

Dorie says: Do you have dry dog food suggestions for helping prevent hot spots/itching? I was told rice products could contribute to issue?

Posted on August 31, 2011

Iris Almanza says: This is a great article, my new rescue is under stress constantly. Her stool is so soft and runny, ans smelly its horrible. I believe this can really help her. I'll consult with my Vet. Thank you so much.

Posted on October 3, 2011

sherry says: This says nothing about beet pulp dog food for small adult's 3 yr old dogs.

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