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Canine Digestive & Immune System Health

Scientists now know that the foundation of good immune system health and disease prevention in all species of animals primarily begins in the gut. The correct balance of healthy microflora (‘Probiotics’) as well as beneficial nutrients and herbs (‘Prebiotics’) that increase and maintain these useful bacterial species,  forms the core elements of optimum immune health. Get this balance right and the whole immune system will benefit. If your dog is only fed a meat-based diet, chances are high that they will have a deficiency of these essential nutrients.

So What Are ‘Probiotics’ and ‘Prebiotics’ and Why Does My Dog Need Them?

Probiotics are microbial supplements (also known as ‘friendly’ bacteria) which improve the balance of intestinal flora. Probiotics vary according to their genus, species and strain. While all probiotics are considered safe and friendly in a broad sense, because the beneficial effects for different disorders and conditions are species and strain specific – not all probiotics possess enough health benefits to be considered therapeutic. This is why you should always consult your qualified animal naturopath for individual advice about the right supplements for your dog.

What Can Probiotics Do?
• Help maintain general wellbeing and healthy digestive system function.
• Reduce the side-effects of antibiotic therapy such as diarrhoea and yeast infections.
• Control urinary tract infections.
• Protect against intestinal pathogens and help manage infectious diarrhoea.
• Improve immune resistance against other infections.
• Reduce allergic symptoms and help in the management of atopy and/or food sensitivities.
• Assist in the management of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
• Reduce systemic inflammation.  kelpie-for-book1

Prebiotics are macronutrients that act as a food source for probiotic bacteria. They are non-digestible glyconutrients, which are fermented in the digestive system into short chain fatty acids such as butyrate, which feed beneficial bacteria and assist in the repair of the gut wall. Specific classes of highly therapeutic prebiotics include:

* Arabinogalactans
Arabinogalactans are a breakthrough in glyconutrient technology. This purified form of soluble vegetable dietary fibre has remarkable prebiotic activity. They are easily incorporated into your dog’s food and are well tolerated. Derived from certain parts of the Western Larch tree (Larix occidentalis) and commercially extracted with water, these glyconutrients provide a non-dairy source of premium prebiotic substances.

* Galacto-oligosaccharides
These medium chain saccharides are derived from milk sugars and may support the growth of beneficial bacteria in the colon by providing probiotics with a fuel source. The unique fermentation process used to produce these prebiotics minimises the potential side-effects of flatulence.

* Colostrum
Bioactive proteins in bovine colostrum, including immunoglobulins, lactoferrin, and lactoperoxidase, may also be useful in promoting a well-balanced intestinal microflora. Immunoglobulins are protein molecules that function as antibodies and may protect the host from harmful microorganisms. For maximal therapeutic effect a minimum of 40% IgG immunoglobulins should be present. Colostrum may assist in maintaining healthy gastrointestinal mucosa and enhancing intestinal Th1 lymphocyte (immune) activity.

What You Need To Do For Your Dog:
Consult a qualified and experienced animal naturopath for advice regarding the best probiotic and prebiotic for your dog. Different strains of probiotics and certain prebiotic substances provide specific benefits. For example, if your dog is vulnerable to heart disease they may benefit from the probiotic species, L. plantarum 299V, as this has been shown in scientific research to reduce cardiovascular risk markers, whereas other probiotic species tested did not show these benefits. Cancer prevention, on the other hand, responded to distinctly different probiotic bacterial species. Therefore, if your dog is a breed that may be vulnerable to developing cancer, such as Boxers and Bull Mastiffs, you may want to give your dog these specific probiotic species to help with disease prevention. When giving your dog probiotics, always support the maintenance of beneficial bacteria in the gut by providing high-quality prebiotic powders in their food as well. Prebiotics encourage the increase in ‘good’ bacteria which, in turn, help promote optimum immune system function.

By feeding your dog a healthy, nutritionally-balanced, natural diet along with individually-prescribed probiotics and prebiotics, you may help your dog to live a very long, happy and high-quality life. What more could your dog ask for?

Yours in Health,
Sar Rooney BHSc., ND., DC., DASc., GDSc. (Hons) Zoology, MHATO, MATMS.
Canine Naturopath, Naturopathic Physician, Research Health Scientist, Zoologist 

Naturopathic Animal Services


categories: Optimum dog health

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