By John Mikesell
Friendly bacteria can play a best supporting role in your dog’s digestive health.
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that live in the digestive tract. There are a variety of different species belonging to genre that include Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Streptococcus and Enterococcus. Some species, such as Lactobacillus, live primarily in the small intestine, while others, such as Bifidabacteria, reside in the large intestine.
Benefits: All dogs can benefit from probiotic, which aid digestion and modulate the immune system. Probiotic produce short-chain fatty acids, which inhibit the growth and activity of harmful bacteria, such as E. coli, Salmonella and Clostridium perfringens, as well as providing other benefits to the intestines. Human studies have documented the effectiveness of certain strains in treating diarrhea, irritable bowel and intestinal inflammation (fewer studies have been conducted on dogs) … probiotic may help prevent urinary tract infections, and can even reduce allergic reactions by decreasing intestinal permeability and controlling inflammation.
Cautions: Some probiotic species require refrigeration in order to remain viable; follow label recommendations for storage. There are always questions on how many survive passage through stomach acid into the digestive tract, and whether they then colonize or must be continually replenished.
When using products intended for dogs, follow label suggestions for dosage. When using human products, give the full dosage to dogs weighing 40 pounds or more. Reduce the dosage for smaller dogs or if you see loose stools.
Be sure to check with your local dog food professional for available products.
As a side note, some pet foods have been recalled due to the possible presence of Aflatoxin (mold by-product).
Certain lots of various dog food have been recalled because they were manufactured with corn that tested above acceptable levels for aflatoxin, according to recall alerts from the Food and Drug Administration.
Recalled foods include Iams Smart Puppy ProActive Health Dry Dog Food, by Procter & Gamble, and River Run Dry Dog Food and Marksman Dry Dog Food by Nutrena, a division of Cargill Animal Nutrition.