Probiotics are the healthy bacteria which live in the intestines of all mammals. They are essential for the proper digestion and assimilation of food as well as helping to regulate the gut. Even the immune system depends on a healthy bacterial population in the body. Probiotics live in the gut, the mouth, on the skin and in all orifices, where they help to maintain health.
Why Use Probiotics?
Most holistic practitioners, like me, have been using probiotics for decades, but it is only now that our colleagues in the ‘normal’ allopathic veterinary world have realized their importance. The enormous range of benefits is only just being discovered by scientists, doctors and vets.
This week, there was an article in the Veterinary Times entitled ‘Probiotics: the new treatment for acute diarrhoea in cats and dogs’.
Pet Plus has been an essential part of my treatment for acute and chronic diarrhoea since its creation in 1996. You may have already read my article about Chester, a Golden Retriever who had diarrhoea for 6 years! He’s completely healthy now and has his Pet Plus every single day! There are hundreds of dogs and cats with intestinal troubles, all related to diet, all sorted by adding Pet Plus to their food. The probiotics are definitely part of the story.
Probiotics are involved in so many areas of the body that their inclusion in any diet is now regarded as essential. By colonizing most of the body’s surfaces, they help to prevent pathogenic, bad bacteria and yeasts from invading.
How Many Different Bacteria Are Needed?
There is a lot of discussion on this topic and no real conclusion. Some people think it is beneficial to have loads of different healthy bacteria. It is also thought that if there are lots of different types of bacteria all trying to colonize the one place, they will be competing against each other. The ‘strongest’ one will win and the ‘weaker’ colonizers will be lost. That is why we have chosen the ‘strongest’ one, Lactobacillus acidophilus.
It is generally accepted that at least 500,000,000 CFU are needed to maintain an effective presence. Currently in Pet Plus, we have 750,000,000 CFU (Colony Forming Units) which has proved to be very effective over the years.
Which Bacteria Are The Best Probiotics?
A lot of the drug companies that have suddenly realized there’s a huge market in probiotics are using Enterococcus faecium. The world leading manufacturer of nutritional supplements that I have chosen to make Pet Plus refuses to use Enterococcus faecium because they regard it as a contaminant! They know that it readily transfers antibiotic resistance and as such is dangerous.
Lactobacillus acidophilus has been used for decades and is well established as a completely safe and extremely effective probiotic. It is found naturally in the intestines of dogs and cats as well as the herbivores they would eat in the wild. Being the best colonizer, it also creates a slightly acidic environment which repells the pathogens and enables it to survive transit through the stomach.
Probiotics are not found in pet food. They are very delicate and so could not survive the processing involved in the manufacture of pet food. Unless you are feeding whole herbivores to your dogs and cats, probiotics will also be missing from a raw food diet comprising meat and bone.
Dogs can supplement their diet by eating herbivore faeces. Cats can gain probiotics by catching herbivores and eating them whole. But these are rather unreliable! Adding Pet Plus ensures that our pets are getting the probiotics, prebiotics and a host of other fantastic nutrients every day.
What Are Prebiotics?
Probiotics are living organisms and need food, now known as prebiotics. Fructo-oligo-saccharides (FOS) have recently been identified as the most useful and are found in all sorts of vegetable matter. Pet Plus contains plenty in the form of wheat grass, barley grass, alfalfa and even the ground flax seeds act as prebiotics. We have now included Frutafit Inulin IQ, an excellent, tasteless FOS from chicory, which stimulates the growth of existing healthy gut bacteria as well as promoting the colonization of the Lactobacillus acidophilus in the Pet Plus.
It is now thought that the prebiotics are more important in a supplement than the probiotics, as they support the existing healthy bacterial population in the gut. We have both in Pet Plus.
It is essential to provide a good source of healthy bacteria (probiotics) and support them with the nutrients they need (prebiotics) to maximize the benefits of good quality nutrition. In nature, carnivores would obtain these from the intestines of their prey. We need to provide them for our pets, whether their diet is raw or processed.