Up to 80% of a dog’s immune system is located in the gastrointestinal tract, so maintaining digestive health means far more than just preventing upset bellies and loose stools.
Probiotics replenish the levels of healthy bacterial flora in the GI tract and prevent the “bad” bacteria from taking over. Dogs with unbalanced flora levels experience digestive problems and are more susceptible to illness.
In the following 10 circumstances, probiotics can be especially beneficial to your dog. All of these stressors upset the balance of good to bad intestinal bacteria, potentially leading to poor nutrient absorption, chronic diarrhea, leaky gut syndrome, allergies, and/or autoimmune disorders.
1. When adopting a rescue or shelter dog.
Unfortunately, we rarely know much about the history of our rescue dogs. What age were they taken from their mother? What was their diet like before they were rescued? Do they have any existing medical problems? Giving probiotics is a good way to boost immunity and counteract any GI symptoms caused by the stress of a new home.
2. Dogs with Demodectic mange.
All dogs are exposed to the mites that cause demodex. It is only those with weak or immature immune systems that develop the skin disease. Boosting their immunity with probiotics can help give these pups the strength to recover from the itchy rashes and skin infections, and also tolerate the chemicals used to kill off the mites.
3. Immune compromised dogs.
Orphaned and non-thriving puppies and dogs with autoimmune disorders, nutritional deficiencies, cancer, diabetes, renal disease, lupus, or those being treated with immunity-suppressing drugs like steroids or chemotherapy need as much natural immune support as they can get. Probiotics not only boost immunity, they also help the body make B vitamins that provide energy, act as antioxidants and help build new cells.
4. After any kind of gastrointestinal illness or digestive upset.
Nothing throws off the healthy balance of the intestinal flora more than a bout of digestive illness like pancreatitis, inflammatory bowel disease, gastritis or colitis. As a veterinary technician, we sent every single patient that presented with diarrhea home on probiotics!
5. Dogs with chronic diarrhea or vomiting.
Some dogs suffer from ideopathic GI symptoms – meaning the source of the problem can’t be pinpointed. It could be due to stress, food allergies, or eating things they shouldn’t. No matter the cause, chronic vomiting or diarrhea will only get worse if the bacterial balance isn’t re-stabilized after a flare-up.
6. Before, during and after a stressful event.
Traveling, boarding, moving to a new home, adding a new family member, etc. All these events can be very stressful to your pooch, and stress can cause diarrhea, vomiting and GI upset. Many owners of nervous dogs start their pup on probiotics before an upcoming stressful event to minimize symptoms.
7. During a diet change.
Changing from one dog food to another can lead to diarrhea and/or vomiting if done too quickly or if your dog is especially sensitive. Probiotics can help alleviate the strain on the digestive tract and prevent issues during the changeover.
8. Dogs who have ingested chemicals, contaminated water, feces, etc.
Dogs who eat and drink from questionable sources are clearly at a much higher risk of developing GI upset and having excess “bad” bacteria in the gut. Probiotics are a must for all poop eaters and garbage pickers!
9. After being treated with antibiotics and/or steroids.
As effective as these drugs are, they have the inconvenient side effect of decimating good bacteria along with the bad. Probiotics can be given at the same time as these drugs or right after, restoring balance and helping to prevent GI upset.
10. While recovering from surgery or injury.
Physical stressors like surgery and injuries tend to temporarily suppress the immune system, meaning your dog’s body must work extra hard to recover. Probiotics not only support immunity and healing, they help animals in recovery tolerate the medications they need to get well.
Which Probiotic Does iHeartDogs Recommend?
The iHeartDogs team was consulted on the creation of the Pronine ™ brand of canine probiotics. One of the things we like about this formula is that it is a 4-in-1 containing three strains of probiotics, prebiotics, digestive enzymes, and digestive herbs. It also comes in convenient single use packets, which ensures the product stays potent until its used.
H/T to Mercola Healthy Pets
Featured Image via Flickr/TheGoingGreenBoutique
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