What are prebiotics?
Prebiotics are non-digestible nutrients that are an energy source for beneficial bacteria that naturally live in the intestines of animals and people. Prebiotics are a specialized form of fiber known as fermentable fiber.
Prebiotics occur naturally in foods such as asparagus, chicory, artichokes, garlic, onion, bananas, honey, rye, wheat, oats and soybean. Increasingly, they are available as supplements used to promote intestinal and digestive health in dogs and cats.
What is the difference between prebiotics and probiotics?
While prebiotics are a fiber nutrient that feed helpful bacteria in the digestive track, probiotics are the beneficial bacteria themselves. Probiotics require prebiotics in order to thrive and exert their influence in the intestinal tract.
Probiotics are microorganisms that naturally reside in the digestive system. Their job is fight against bacteria that cause illness and disease. Probiotics also aid in digestion and boost the immune system.
When do cats and dogs need to take prebiotic and probiotic supplements?
One of the most common uses of prebiotic and probiotic supplements is as a treatment to restore a balance of bacteria types after the administration of antibiotics.
Antibiotics and designed to kill bacteria that causes infection, but unfortunately they also kill beneficial bacteria. Probiotic supplements are used to restore intestinal balance after the use of antibiotics.
Prebiotic and probiotic supplements may also be needed to restore balance in pets when stress, dietary changes, prescription medications or age cause an imbalance of bacteria in the intestinal tract. Signs that your cat or dog may be suffering from a probiotic imbalance include:
• Skin problems
• Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Should prebiotics and probiotics be used together?
Many pets foods or supplements include either a prebiotic or probiotic only. However, to get maximum health and digestive benefits, both can be used together. Since prebiotics feed probiotics, they enhance their effectiveness.
If your pet has acute symptoms of probiotic imbalance, the use of prebiotics in conjunction with probiotic supplements will aid in the speed and level of recovery.
If probiotic imbalance is not an issue, prebiotics supplements can be used alone as a preventative measure to feed and maintain healthy probiotic levels.
Prebiotic and Probiotic Supplements
It’s unlikely you will be able to feed your dog or cat enough asparagus or onions to provide healthy levels of prebiotics. Many quality dog and cat foods contain prebiotic supplements to help pets maintain a balanced diet.
However, for pets suffering from gastrointestinal disorders related to a probiotic imbalance, supplements are the most effective way to ensure the animal is consuming enough of both substances to bring balance back to their system.
Prebiotic and probiotic supplements are a natural, holistic approach to maintaining pet health. They introduce natural nutrients and bacteria into your pet’s system that restore balance and prevent disease. Regular use of holistic pet supplements can lessen the need for prescription medications and improve the fitness and longevity of your dog or cat.