Does your pet suffer from loss of energy, bad gas, bad breath, itchy skin, constipation, bouts of diarrhea or vomiting, urinary tract problems, or loss of appetite? All of these problems may actually be symptoms of a compromised gastrointestinal tract – too much “bad” bacteria and not enough “good” bacteria.
“Good” bacteria? Never heard of good bacteria you say? Ever heard of “probiotics?” The word “Probiotic” simply means “for life.”
A probiotic is an organism which contributes to the health and balance of the intestinal tract. A probiotic is also referred to as the “friendly”, “beneficial”, or “good” bacteria which when ingested acts to maintain a healthy intestinal tract and help fight illness and disease.
Probiotics are defined as live microorganisms, including Lactobacillus species, Bifidobacterium species and yeasts, which may beneficially affect the host upon ingestion by improving the balance of the intestinal microflora. Put more simply, probiotics refers to dietary supplements or foods that contain beneficial, or “good,” bacteria normally found in your body. These microorganisms may assist with digestion or help protect against some harmful bacteria.
Probiotics may have antimicrobial, immunomodulatory, anticarcinogenic, antidiarrheal, antiallergenic and antioxidant activities.
Probiotics help to keep the gastrointestinal tract in balance by keeping the ‘bad’ bacteria in check. It also assists in the uptake of nutrients and vitamins into the body.
A healthy lower intestine should contain at least 85% “healthy” bacteria to prevent the over colonization of disease causing micro-organisms like E. coli and salmonella. A colon can maintain its health with 15% unfriendly bacteria, if the body contains at least 85% probiotic friendly bacteria.
Here are some of the benefits probiotics provide:
- increased natural resistance to infectious disease in the gastrointestinal tract and a first line of defense against disease
- prevention of dangerous fungal overgrowth
- reduction or elimination of some allergic reactions
- antibiotic action against certain pathogenic bacteria
- enhanced resistance against viruses
- optimized digestive processes, allowing maximum nutritional benefit from food
- improved resistance to toxic bowel problems
- resistance to diarrhea
- stimulation of the immune system
- improved resistance to food poisoning
- production of needed nutrients, such as vitamin K, one form of which the body itself cannot make
- improved lactose intolerance conditions
- reduction of cholesterol levels
- antioxidants (inhibit the destructive effects of oxidation)
- improved resistance to stress of all kinds
- overall improved quality of life and longevity
Many, if not most, people have never heard of the term ‘probiotics’ but that doesn’t mean that we don’t ingest them ourselves, especially if we eat things like yogurt, certain cheeses or some soy based foods. And as healthy as these are for us, they can be just as healthy for our pets and side effects, if they occur, are generally very mild.
You can easily add probiotics as a dietary supplement to your pet’s diet and it is a healthy and natural alternative to a regime of antibiotics that may be prescribed by your vet. Antibiotics kill off both “good” and “bad” bacteria, leaving your pet’s system open to other problems by actually lowering the immune system. And the best part is that because probiotics are natural, they be used as a part of your pet’s daily diet.
So for your pet’s sake, think about going natural! You can take a look at the best resource I have ever come across for a pet’s natural health here.