Here lately though, the scientific community's view of the probiotic universe has become as outdated as the theory of the world being flat. For one thing, science discovered a number of beneficial microbes occupying niches all along a pet's gastrointestinal tract. They also came to the conclusion that probiotics provide animals with other benefits that go far beyond their digestive effects.
Probiotic bacteria are usually seen as inhabitants of the large intestine. It's true that a healthy animal's colon harbors hundreds of beneficial species (amounting to trillions of individual organisms) while some sections of the gastrointestinal tract, most notably the stomach and upper small intestine, of the dog and cat do not provide an ideal probiotic environment because of acidity. But we now know that other parts of the pet's digestive system are inhabited by their own specialized colonies of healthful microbes.
The lower small intestine, the part that connects to the large intestine, plays host to its own probiotic community. One of the organisms found there, Lactobacillus sporogenes (also called Bacillus coagulans), has shown an ability to fight destructive free radicals.
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Friendly bacteria make vitamins right in the pet's intestines, including A, B1, B3, B6, B12 and Biotin. They also aid hormone balance and, of course improve elimination. Probiotics help synthesize vitamins and allow the animal's body to more readily absorb other nutrients, particularly minerals. They protect the digestive tract's mucosal barrier and inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria. And probiotics help keep a potentially troublesome yeast called Candida, and other infections, in check. What's more, probiotic supplements can help regulate a pet's immune function. Nearly 80% of all immune cells in the animal's body reside within the intestines, where they defend against harmful bacteria. Probiotics not only help stimulate the immune system when needed but will also help tone down an overactive immune response which accompanies most chronic skin allergies and respiratory problems.
The animal's delicate probiotic balance can be upset by illness, stress, poor diet, and drug treatments. This is especially the case with use of antibiotics, which kill the good bacteria right along with the bad. This often leads to gastrointestinal upsets such as appetite loss, vomiting, diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome. Supplementing probiotics during drug use has been found to help lessen the discomforts and irritation to the intestinal lining. In this case the animal should be given the probiotic at least 1 hour after taking the medication for maximum effectiveness. Dosage: If you use a human product, calculate an animal's dose according to it's size. I recommend using a probiotic for at least 1 month in such cases and ideally for two or three months to fully reestablish the beneficial bacterial colony in the gut.
Probiotic supplements whether manufactured for human or animal ingestion need to contain enough live organisms to be effective; the manufacturer should provide lab verification of viability on the label. A quality product should also contain a prebiotic, a substance that feeds the microbes. Such as that found in acai pulp (A high-energy berry from the Amazon Rainforest high in, antioxidants, amino acids, and essential fatty acids).
Improved digestion alone is certainly reason enough to give probiotics to our pets. But when taking into account all their other benefits it isn't going to be the only reason.
Dosing Guidelines: To help you easily calculate doses or adapt human herbal or nutritional products for use with dogs, cats, horses or birds use the "Dosing Guidelines" on Side 2 of the "Herbs to the Rescue" chart from "Pet Remedy Charts".
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