Prebiotics For Dogs
During any given week, your curious 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.
What Are Prebiotics?
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 term “fructooligosaccharides,” or FOS for short. Foods with this word have one of the best prebiotics now available. Although the name seems very scientific, it refers to fiber, according to Dicke. “FOS is found naturally in certain fruits, vegetables, and grains,” she explains. “However, the concentration is typically deficient and does not provide the desired health benefits.”
How Do 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 mucosal barrier’s cells, promoting their health and integrity. An increasing population of beneficial bacteria helps crowd out harmful bacteria through physical competition for space and nutrients and produce substances detrimental to the undesirable bacteria.
Health Benefits of Prebiotics For Dogs
Beyond supporting the immune system, prebiotics may also lead to other health benefits in your dog. Research on humans, who similarly use prebiotics, found that prebiotics appears 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 has 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 prebiotics in dog food help may prevent skin and coat problems in adult dogs.
How to Begin Feeding Your Dog, Food Containing Prebiotics
If your dog is not currently eating food containing 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:
- Day 1 and 2: Feed approximately one-fourth of the new food mixed with three-fourths of current food.
- Days 2 and 3: Mix half of the old food with half of the new food.
- Days 4 to 6: Give your dog three-fourths of the new prebiotics-containing diet 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
Please consult with your veterinarian to see what he or she recommends. If your dog has a severe weight or medical condition, it might require a special veterinarian formula food to address its particular needs.
Article written by Author: The Dog Daily Expert