Generations of controlled and uncontrolled breeding and interbreeding of dogs has altered their genes and their health. It is no secret that various dog breeds are more prone to specific health problems. Cancer is so prevalent that it is expected to occur in most dogs that live long enough to develop it. Owners of giant breeds are likely familiar with the risk of hip dysplasia and toy breed owners with incidents of serious dental problems. One of the top health complaints of dog owners seeking veterinary help are related to digestive issues. In a healthy dog, good probiotics are not going to cause harm. In a sick dog, they can be an incredible help toward healing.
What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are known as good bacteria. Bacteria that cause disease are known as pathogenic bacteria. These are the ones treated by antibiotics. The word means “anti-life” because of the ability of antibiotic medications to kill bacteria. Probiotics refer to bacteria that are “pro-life” or “promotes life.” Human beings are made up of about a trillion cells. Ten times that amount lives in the gut in the form of bacterial cells. It is known as the gut microbiome. Without it, digestion ceases, and compromised microbiomes allow pathogenic bacteria and viruses to proliferate. The good bacteria keep things in check. Dogs, like humans, are also mammals that have a gut microbiome that can help or harm, depending on the bacteria strains that are thriving.
Canine Allergies and Probiotics
People sneeze, get runny eyes, and react as if they have a cold when allergies begin to act up. Dogs express allergic reactions in their skin, and the most common allergies in dogs can be traced back to foods that dogs are discovered to be allergic to. Corn and soy are on the short list of common food items that many people are allergic to. The ingredients are still considered safe to be included in dog diets even though anecdotal owner evidence is overwhelming to the contrary.
Common allergic reactions to foods results in scratching, sores and foul smelling skin because a bacteria that normally lives on and in dogs begins to proliferate. It is suspected that exposure to food allergens alters the canine microbiome enough that bad bacteria is no longer kept in check. Probiotics for dogs can help to normalize and stabilize compromised gut microbiomes in canines.
Canine Flatulence, Bad Breath and Bacteria
Mammals pass gas. Some are better at it than others. Cows are suspected of contributing enough methane to the atmosphere that they are blamed for increasing greenhouse gases that cause global warming. An uncle that has a penchant for burritos may also be blamed, but dogs are no slouches when it comes to breaking wind. The occasional “silent stinker” is to be expected, but noticeable daily issues with bad gas are likely due to an altering of the gut microbiome.
Flatulence and bad breath are both caused by bacteria. The smell in either case is bacteria off-gassing as they metabolize and proliferate. Good bacteria in probiotics seed the gut microbiome from the mouth to the anus, which is helpful in normalizing digestive processes and eliminating a lot of the bad gas some dogs can have. However, there is an initial period when probiotics are given that bad bacteria begin to die off in great numbers. This can cause a temporary increase in flatulence in people and dogs. Also, do not cover up bad breath with minty chews. Get it checked out by a vet. Some serious dental issues may be occurring that can lead to life-threatening illnesses.
Differences in Probiotic Strains for Dogs
The bacterial strains of probiotics sound as dangerous as pathogenic bacteria. Saccharomyces Florentinus and Listeria monocytogenes are both bacteria. Are either good or bad? Is one good and one bad? The only way to know is to know about the two strains and how they affect the body. Here, the first one is a known human probiotic, and the second is a bacterium that is harmful to humans. Both examples are known by research in how they affect human beings, but research of probiotics in dogs is still developing.
B. animalis is a probiotic that has been researched, but not every canine probiotic supplement contains it. Also, not every dog will benefit by supplementing with it. Owners hoping to see positive results in giving their dogs probiotics need to do their own research. Look at both clinical research and overwhelming anecdotal examples. Then, seek the advice of a veterinarian before trying any new probiotic supplement. Some doctors may feel they are unnecessary, so ask questions on whether or not a product is likely to cause any harm.
It has only been recently that interesting data is coming out of studies about the human microbiome and how altering it in a negative way can be at the root of many diseases. The science shows promise that many serious issues can be fixed by simply changing what people eat. The data for dogs and how probiotics may help them is naturally falling behind human studies. Still, owners do not have to wait for the science to catch up. Most commercial dog probiotic supplements are harmless. Some may be found to be extraordinarily beneficial. When conventional treatments are failing, ask a veterinarian about supplementing with probiotics, and also ask about what is really working. Do research and join in online discussions with owners of the same breed. The old saying, “You are what you eat,” applies to both people and their dogs.