All living things are hosts for bacteria, including your dog. In fact, beneficial bacteria – often referred to as ‘good bacteria’ – are essential to a healthy digestive system, supporting the body’s natural defences. Because of this, keeping your dog’s gut healthy is important to keeping your dog happy overall.
We’re used to seeing products and supplements that encourage us to maintain our own gut health, but what about our four-legged friends? Some of them are far less fussy about what they eat or where they eat it, so it’s up to us to help keep their tummies comfortable.
What are prebiotics?
Prebiotics work in harmony with probiotics to support healthy guts and good digestion. This in turn supports the immune system and general health. If you are considering prebiotics and probiotics for dogs, it is often easier to deliver the prebiotics as a supplement.
In effect, prebiotics – however they are delivered – reach the gut intact and provide a feeding ground for probiotics: the good bacteria. Without them, probiotics are not as effective, which is why supplements for both humans and dogs are often combination supplements – called Synbiotics.
When does my dog need prebiotics?
Not every dog needs prebiotic and probiotic supplements, although they support general gut health. If you are considering giving your dog this kind of supplement, you may want to check with your vet first – particularly if your dog is already receiving medication or treatment.
Prebiotics support dogs in a number of ways, including:
- Keeping things ticking along – If your dog is blessed with a happy digestive system, you may think that you don’t need to give any form of supplement, but it’s always worthwhile to take a positive approach and help your dog to maintain healthy bacteria by introducing a supplement into their diet.
- Helping maintain tummy comfort – your dog can get anxious, and this can have a knock-on effect on digestive comfort, especially if the anxiety means they lose their appetite. Using prebiotics and probiotics, or a dedicated fibre supplement for dogs, can help to look after digestion during periods when your dog might be going through change.
- Supporting immune function – just as we choose to look after ourselves more as we get older or when we are recovering, we can help our best friend to do the same. Prebiotics can help to boost good bacteria in your dog’s gut. This good bacteria helps the digestive system to work properly and supports the immune system.
- If your dog has a sensitive tummy – you may have noticed that your dog sometimes has a sensitive digestion system (you’ll know, because there will be signs of discomfort, including more wind, a change in stools and a quieter doggy in general). and if so, you might consider giving him something to help boost the good bacteria. If you see these signs over a period of time, contact your vet in case the problem is more serious.
It’s important to remember that prebiotics and probiotics for dogs are supplements and need to be part of an approved diet that is relevant to your dog’s breed, age and health. Look for supplements that are formulated for the size and type of dog you have so that you can be sure they have a positive impact.
How do prebiotics work?
Prebiotics are described as soluble, non-digestible carbohydrates and they work by lodging in the digestive system, stimulating the growth and action of good bacteria. In dogs, as in humans, these good bacteria are present all over the body, but are particularly important in the gut. And, just like humans, dogs get a great dose of these good bacteria when they are born, giving them a great start in life.
Environment, illness, medication and general change can affect levels of good bacteria, which is often when supplements become useful. When you give your dog prebiotics, you are creating an environment in their gut where good bacteria can flourish – one doesn’t work without the other.
If you’re considering using prebiotics and probiotics to support doggy digestion, take a look at YuDIGEST Dog for day-to-day small tummy troubles and YuDIGEST PLUS for Dogs which supports dogs with larger troubles. These supplements are formulated with our unique BioActiv ingredients which help to bolster the naturally good bacteria in your dog’s system. You might also like to check out our article on probiotics for dogs and how they help.