Written by Veterinary Dr Linda Simon
The use of prebiotics and probiotics has really taken off in recent years. This is true both in human medicine and in the veterinary sector. People are gaining a whole new perspective on the many potential benefits that these dietary supplements can offer.
Prebiotics are fibre that act as a food source for the ‘friendly’ bacteria and yeast known as probiotics. While prebiotics are non-digestible, they allow the resident probiotics to multiply and thrive. This means more ‘good bacteria’ and less of the bad ones. In this way, they lead to a healthy and robust gut microbiome. A healthy population of bacteria within the gut supports G.I. health. They also play a key role when it comes to other systems including the central nervous system, skin and even the immune system.
The ‘Gut-Brain Axis’
Recently, there has been a lot published about the ‘Gut-Brain Axis’ and how good gut health can encourage good mental health. It is the teeny-tiny bugs (and their food source of course!) within the intestines that have the biggest influence over this.
This recent discovery is especially important for those dogs who suffer with stress and anxiety. When prebiotics are used in conjunction with behavior modification programmes and other calming techniques, they really come into their own.
So, how does this work in the real world?
Giving dogs prebiotics at potentially stressful times to prevent an upset stomach offers us a chance to stop diarrhea even before it begins. We all know that there are certain things that our dogs may find hard to cope with. They become anxious and can then develop loose poo for a few days after the event. Different dogs will have different triggers and these can change during their lifetime. For some, it will be the groomers or the vet; for others the boarding kennel or a ride in the car.
We also need to consider general periods of stress during a dog’s life. Weaning, being rehomed, neutering surgeries and annual vaccines can all be stress-inducing. By feeding our dogs’ prebiotics we can encourage the growth of good bacteria such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Doing this may well prevent a stomach upset from ever occurring.
Interestingly, prebiotics and probiotics are also beneficial at non-stressful times. Recent studies have shown that they can improve mood and may even enhance cognitive function in some. Perhaps Rex won’t be writing a symphony any time soon, but he may well pick up on those training commands a little quicker.
In those dogs who have too much of the wrong bacteria and yeast in their guts (a condition known as ‘dysbiosis’) we can see more mental health issues such as anxiety and even depression.
Prebiotics and Pooch & Mutt
For years now, the team at Pooch & Mutt have understood the importance of supplementing with prebiotics.
Our best-selling Bionic Biotic supplement are packed full of prebiotics, as well as the probiotic ‘Bacillus subtilis’. This combination boosts a dog’s gut health and can lead to firmer stools that emit less odour.
Many of our dog foods are also enriched with prebiotics. Our Health & Digestion kibble (ideal for those with sensitive stomachs) contains two types of prebiotics: Mannanoligosaccharides and Fructooligosaccharides. These popular prebiotics have been proven to not only bolster the immune system but to also support the health of the colon. While all dogs would benefit from this, this could especially be useful in those who experience ‘colitis’ (inflammation of the large intestine).
These supplements help keep our dog’s digestive tracts in tip top shape. As a healthy gut, of course, means a healthy mind, this really is vital. Thanks to Pooch & Mutt, providing your dog with their daily dose of prebiotics has never been easier.