Probiotics and Prebiotics: What’s the Difference?
We’ve all heard about probiotics and how they can do wonders for your pet’s digestion. But how exactly do they work? And why do we also need prebiotics? We’ve decided to break it down for you so you can get a good understanding of what they can do for your dog or cat.
Probiotics: The Good Bacteria
Probiotics are the live bacteria that are found in fermented products such as yogurt, green tripe, or unpasteurized goat’s milk. You can find them by looking for names such as Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium. By consuming products with probiotic, you are replenishing the digestive tract with “good” bacteria. These good bacteria keep you healthy by controlling the growth of harmful bacteria and helping move the food through the digestive tract.
Probiotics are especially beneficial for those with digestive related illnesses such as irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, infectious diarrhea (caused by virus, bacteria, or parasites), or antibiotic related diarrhea. On top of the digestive benefits, probiotics can also be used after antibiotic treatment to replenish beneficial bacteria and they have also shown to help strengthen the immune system.
One downside to probiotics is that they are very delicate and can be destroyed by heat or acid in the stomach. This is why we always recommend ‘adding’ probiotics to the food before serving as opposed to buying food that the manufacturer claims to already have included probiotics in. Because they are living, fragile organisms, there could be a high chance that the probiotics have already been killed in the process of manufacturing the food, especially if heat is involved in the case of making kibble or canned foods.
Prebiotics: Food for Probiotics
Prebiotics on the other hand are not sensitive to heat or acid and they do not need to be kept alive. However, they cannot be digested by the body, rather they are essentially the ‘food’ for the good bacteria that is present in the gut. Prebiotics are a special form of dietary fibre and are found in many fruits, veggies and grains such as whole wheat, onions, bananas, garlic, honey, leeks, artichokes, and chicory root.
There are several kinds of prebiotics and they have long names like fructooligosaccharides, oligosaccharides, arabinogalactans, etc. Most probiotic supplements will also include prebiotics to enhance the effect of probiotics. Not all prebiotics are the same though, and some strands can actually feed the bad bacteria living in the gut. Of Course, these strands are harder to come by and are typically not used as a supplement.
The Synergy of Pro and Prebiotics
As you add probiotics and prebiotics to your dog and cat food, your pet will digest and absorb the food more efficiently, and if your dog has been deficient in magnesium or calcium, prebiotics have been seen to help drastically in the absorption of those two minerals. Interestingly enough, if one is not deficient of magnesium or calcium, adding prebiotics do not lead to over absorption. Pro/prebiotics also boost the immune system, control the growth of bad bacteria in the gut, and help in the absorption of water to prevent diarrhea.
If you have any questions about probiotics and prebiotics, please feel free to ask us by email, phone, or visiting us in store! We want to help your dog become healthier than ever!
Thank you for reading!
-The True Carnivores Pack