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Probiotics: The Single Greatest Thing You Can Do to Enhance Your Pet’s Health

January 13, 2010 | 54,499 views
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Could your pet benefit from a dose of healthy bacteria? In this important video with Dr. Karen Becker, you'll find out why probiotics are so important, plus what to watch out for in most commercial pet probiotic supplements.

Dr. Becker's Comments:

Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria that your pets need to not only maintain healthy levels of good bacteria, but to ward off some of the opportunistic, potentially pathogenic or bad bacteria from overtaking their GI tracts.

Your pet’s digestive tract is the largest immune organ in its body, and believe it or not, your dog or cat has even more bacteria in its intestinal tract than you do! Their digestive tract is designed specifically to handle a tremendous bacterial load -- bacteria which, if found elsewhere in the body, would be considered a life-threatening infection.

Your pet’s digestive system must stay populated with a healthy level of good bacteria in order to keep their immune system strong. If bad bacteria overwhelms your pet’s intestines, your dog or cat can lose its vitality and become more susceptible to illness, not to mention GI symptoms.

Laboratory studies have shown animals raised either without colonies of friendly bacteria in their gut, or who have a poor balance of good-to-bad gut bacteria, are at high risk of developing disease.

Friendly bacteria in your pet’s gut helps their body make important B vitamins, maintain a strong immune system, and prevent an overgrowth of harmful bacteria. If this happens, it can lead to a reduced level of vitality and make your pet vulnerable to all sorts of potential illnesses.

Why Might Your Pet Need a Healthy Probiotic Boost?

As in people, the bacteria in your pet’s GI tract can be easily influenced by a number of factors, ranging from emotional stress to an unhealthy lifestyle.

For instance, antibiotics and steroids like cortisone are the most-prescribed drugs in traditional veterinary practices. However, both these drugs can decimate the friendly bacteria in your pet’s gut.

Other stressors that can throw off the ratio of good-to-bad gut bacteria in your pet in a very negative way include:

  • A sudden change in diet (if your pet has been on the same food for a long time)
  • A poor-quality diet
  • Strange eating habits (feces, grass, sticks, rocks, etc.)
  • Consumption of unclean water (from lakes, ponds or ditches)
  • Ingestion of fertilizers, pesticides, or chemicals in the water supply
  • Vaccinations 
  • Antibiotics and/or steroids (cortisone, prednisone)
  • Surgery
  • GI disease
  • Boarding at a kennel or pet hospital
  • Travel
  • Emotional stress (usually caused by a change in routine)

When GI stressors upset the balance of good to bad bacteria in your pet’s digestive system, it can create a cascade of nutritional and other health problems, including poor food absorption and intermittent or chronic diarrhea.

It also opens the door to leaky gut (dysbiosis), which means your dog or cat can absorb partially digested amino acids and allergens into its bloodstream. This in turn can trigger a host of other health problems, from allergies to autoimmune disease. 

The Benefits of Probiotics are Shining Through – Even in Conventional Veterinary Medicine

Holistic veterinarians have been using probiotics for years in veterinary medicine. But traditional veterinarians have really been quite condescending to us holistic veterinarians, saying that probiotics don’t pass through the gastric acid and therefore are ineffective in dogs and cats.

All of this changed about two years ago when conventional veterinary researchers started checking if, indeed, dogs and cats with gastrointestinal disorders, inflammatory bowel disease, gastritis, and colitis, or animals suffering from debilitating secondary effects from antibiotic use or steroids, actually benefited from specific strains of probiotics.

And the overwhelming conclusion was yes indeed; not only do pets benefit from receiving probiotics, but they recovered faster and had fewer complications long-term when probiotics were instituted.

So instead of holistic veterinarians now being the ones that are potentially prescribing probiotics that “don’t work,” all of a sudden probiotics are gaining the respect they deserve and are now a pretty hot topic in veterinary medicine! 

My Concerns with Most Probiotic Supplements Sold Commercially

Here’s my frustration with the probiotics that are currently available in the veterinary market:

  1. They only contain one or two strains of beneficial bacteria for dogs and cats.
  2. Viability, potency and purity have not been evaluated in many of the strains.
  3. The number of colony-forming units of really beneficial bacteria per gram is only between 1 million and 4 million.

Remember, any type of gastrointestinal stressor can not only rock the delicate balance of good to bad bacteria in your pet’s system, but can actually open up the door for your pets to have leaky gut or dysbiosis.

The best defense against some of these nasty problems and to bolster immunologic gastrointestinal health is through the use of probiotic therapy – but using a sub-par variety like the ones I described above will not do the trick.

Finally, we’re now able to offer you the very best probiotic strain, in my opinion, that has ever hit the veterinary market, right here at MercolaHealthyPets.com. 

We have specifically blended the very best probiotic bacteria and put them into one supplement, so you don’t have to pick and choose three or four different strains depending on what problem your pets are experiencing in terms of gastrointestinal upset.

We’ve included healthy bacteria for maintenance. We’ve put the correct species that are necessary for animals to regain bowel health after antibiotics or steroid use. And we’ve put a couple of strains in there that are excellent for immunocompromised or debilitated, including animals that:

  • Came from a shelter
  • Have demadactic mange
  • Are immunologically compromised
  • Are runts or poor doers
  • Are weak or not thrifty
  • Have problems gaining weight
  • Suffer with chronic diarrhea or chronic vomiting

We even have a couple of strains that are excellent in helping balance bowel health for specific immunocompromised patients. We’ve blended all of these strains together, and we’re offering them to you here at MercolaHealthyPets.com. It’s the very first product on the market to cover all of these bases, and I hope you’re all as excited as I am.

And remember, not just any probiotic will do, including the one you may take yourself. Probiotic formulas used by humans were developed specifically to fortify the bacterial species found in the human GI tract. Pets have some specific strains of bacteria unique to them, so they need a unique probiotic. Your dog or cat must have organisms derived from its own species for best results, so make sure you choose your pet’s probiotic wisely.
  
 

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