What are Probiotics?
Probiotics. You may have heard of them. You may not. But if you’ve ever eaten yogurt, you got some.
Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria, yeast or enzymes that help improve the gut function and the immune system and can improve other bodily systems. They are usually used for and reside in the intestinal tract. “Pro” means for or in favor of, and “biotic” or “bio” means life.
You and your pets have them. A body usually has more cells living in it than are it. In other words, there are more bacteria and yeast living in the body than all the cells that make up the body. That’s a lot of bacteria. But not all bacteria are bad.
There are two types of flora that live in the gut. There are the bad ones that secrete toxins and cause infection (ever had E-Coli? Salmonella? C-Diff?) and then there’s the beneficial ones that promote a healthy intestinal tract and immune system. A lot of the immune system is in the intestinal tract. Probiotics are the good kind (acidophilus is an example of a good guy). We need the probiotics to keep the bad guys from over populating and causing infection.
But does your pet routinely need them as a supplement? That depends. Is he over-all healthy? Does he have any health issues or has he been on antibiotics that was causing diarrhea? Probiotics can be good for your pet but can also be expensive over time. Have a chat with your vet to see if probiotics can be helpful for him.
Good quality foods will often-times add probotics as an ingredient. So check the label and see if they are present in the ingredient list.
But even the bacteria need to be fed. They usually get fed from the food the animal consumed but look for chicory and/or beet pulp in your pet’s food ingredient list. They are known to be good “prebiotics” — the stuff that feeds the good bacteria, helping them grow and prosper.
Some good resources:
You can find some great supplements here.
Want more info? Check out this article from PetMD.