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  5. Treating Digestive Upset in Pets: The Benefits of Probiotics

Treating Digestive Upset in Pets: The Benefits of Probiotics

Does your pet ever experience vomiting, diarrhea, or blood in their stool without a known clinical cause? Does she ever exhibit odd eating behaviors such as the frequent consumption of grass, dirt or sticks? Does she often seem tired, lethargic, or depressed? All of these symptoms point to digestive upset and although there are many factors that affect the state of your petís digestive system, each share a common link: a poor microbial balance in your petís gastrointestinal tract. If your pet is suffering from frequent digestive problems, donít worry- thereís a simple way to restore your petís gastrointestinal flora to its optimal balance. The beneficial bacteria needed to maintain your petís digestive health are known as probiotics. Bacteria classified as probiotics have been shown to help prevent diarrhea, infections, and inflammatory bowel disease in humans and pets alike. These bacteria can be replenished by feeding your pet supplements that contain probiotics and fibers known as prebiotics.

Prebiotics, unlike probiotics, are simply plant fibers that facilitate the growth of the beneficial bacteria found in the large intestine and colon. These fibers work synergistically with probiotics to replenish the flora in your petís tract quickly and with great efficacy. Though there are many probiotic supplements on the market, only Proflora contains both 200 million colony-forming units (CFUs) of probiotic bacteria per gram and the prebiotic fiber inulin to keep your petís digestive tract healthy.

The state of your petís gastrointestinal tract is very delicate, as healthy and ill pets both have more than a billion bacteria living in their lower intestine alone. Though some of these bacteria are responsible for illnesses in your pet, others are necessary for digestion. Certain strains of bacteria in your petís system help break down food, absorb nutrients, and maintain a healthy immune response. In fact, up to 70% of the bacteria that compose your petís immune system are located in the gut. Because of the gutís role in the immune system, its health actually has a large impact throughout your petís system. Pets suffering from the idiopathic Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) can experience symptoms throughout their body. This disease causes lymphocytes, the cells that regulate immune response, to facilitate the destruction of healthy cells throughout the body. Dogs and cats with IBD have been found to suffer from inflammation of the skin, liver, and mouth.

The microbial balance of your petís gut can be disturbed by something as simple as stress, but other causes include the use of antibiotics. Though an antibiotic may be necessary for combating an infection, its indiscriminate elimination of bacteria may leave your petís immune system diminished. It is therefore often advisable to give your pet probiotics in conjunction with antibiotics to restore the bacteria that facilitate a healthy immune response.

When selecting a supplement with bacteria, it is important to know both which strains are included and the amount of bacteria included in each dose. Though there are hundreds of strains of bacteria present in the large intestine and colon of pets, only a fraction of them contribute to the digestive process and immune response of your pet. One genus known to hold multiple species of bacteria that perform useful functions in the bowel is Lactobacillus. Though there are more than 100 species of Lactobacillus bacteria, only a select few species provide benefits to the gut. Those that do, however, tend to do so by acting as anti-inflammatory and antimicrobiral agents. Proflora contains three strains of Lactobacillus bacteria, one strain of Enterococcus, and Inulin whose functions are as follows:

Enterococcus faecium: This strain of bacteria produces lactic acid to stimulate the immune response and is thought to help relieve the diarrhea caused by antibiotics. E. faecium is known to colonize well and can receive genes that are resistant to antibiotics to help keep your petís bacterial balance in check. Lactobacillus acidophilus: These bacteria exist naturally in your petís intestines. They produce vitamin K, hydrogen peroxide, lactase, and other substances via processes that increase the acidity of their environment while further breaking down chyme (partially digested food) in your petís lower intestine. Lactobacillus casei: This strain also produces lactic acid and has been shown to be useful in relieving cases of chronic constipation. Like E. faecium, it has also been shown to be effective at reducing instances of diarrhea related to antibiotic use and infections. Lactobacillus plantarum: Another naturally occurring strain of bacteria, L. plantarum produces L-lysine and hydrogen pyroxide, which acts as an antimicrobial agent to eliminate other bacteria in the colon and large intestine. It has been shown to be an effective treatment for irritable bowel syndrome, Chronís disease, and colitis. Inulin: Though not a strain of bacteria, this fiber naturally facilitates the growth of the strains listed above. Inulin is not digested by your pet until it reaches the gastrointestinal tract, where it is fermented by the probiotics to stimulate their continued growth. This process also produces fatty acids that are used to produce energy and that can stave off carcinogenic bacteria.

As stated, there are 200 million CFUs of these beneficial bacteria included in Proflora. But what exactly is meant by the phrase ďcolony-forming unitĒ and how many are necessary to improve your petís digestive health? As the name implies, a CFU refers to a collection of bacteria that is viable, or able to multiply under controlled conditions. This means that each CFU can contain thousands of individual bacterium or as little as one bacterium. It also means that the concept of a CFU is relative to the environment in which the bacteria colony is intended to grow as well as to the strain of bacteria composing the unit. For Proflora and other probiotics then, these CFUs are indicative of the amount of each strain of bacteria required to produce a growing colony in the gut. Typically, the more CFUs included in the probiotic the more effective it will be, with some probiotic supplements for humans touting upwards of 1 billion CFUs per serving.

One popular pet supplement, Fortiflora, contains 108 million CFUs per gram and is found to be very effective at treating both cats and dogs. Other supplements that include probiotics and prebiotics like NaturVet Digestive Enzymes and Iams Veterinary Formula Prostora Max also contain 100 million or less CFUs per serving. Proflora was created to up the ante by supplying twice this amount. Furthermore, Proflora also includes more than just the Enterococcus faecium included in Fortiflora, as its strains of Lactobacillus and its inclusion of inulin produce an even greater effect

Proflora is available in two formulas to provide specialized care to both cats and dogs. Dogs also have the additional option of receiving their probiotics in a palatable soft chew. So, if your pet needs antibiotics or is suffering from digestive upset on a consistent basis, try Proflora and see the results for yourself!

Best product EVER! by Abby's Mom 02/03/2013 I have a 14 year old Aussie that has occasional problems with her digestion. This product works wonders and she actually enjoys taking them.

Probiotic chew by mzee from Michigan 02/03/2013 Wow. I paid a ton for a much poorer quality product (PURINA Fortiflora (ick)) prescribed by an ER vet office last spring for a bout of acute diarrhea. Thought i'd have this on hand for the next time around-the content is much better than Purina (which uses animal digest as an ingredient). I read in reviews many keep their dogs on this full time. I began doing so last month when this arrived-as we were traveling and our boy seems to have developed a "delicate" constitution w/ occasional episodes of diarrhea when we travel. Since using this product-for the past 5 weeks-Not one episode of diarrhea!!!! EXCELLENT product.

Great product! by Griffy106 from Lak Balboa, CA 03/19/2013 My poor Shih Tzu had bouts of loose bowel movements. I had her tested and there were no parasites. I read that probiotics were good for this problem and decided to try this. It is amazing, my dog feels so much better. She is actually eating normally again and running around like a puppy. I know she is feeling better because her stools are firmer and she has less gas problems. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to do all they can to make their baby feel better.