Probiotics are “good” or “friendly” bacteria that reside within the gut (intestines) of mammals, including humans, dogs and cats. Probiotics are living organisms that act as little “factories” that produce essential nutrients the body needs to function.
Each animal has his or her own unique, preferred strain of probiotics. The preferred strain is the one that will be at the highest level when the animal is healthy. If there are three dogs playing in a park, it’s unlikely that any of them will have the same preferred strain of probiotics.
Think of our animals’ digestive systems like vehicles. While they all take fuel to run, there are certain types of fuel that work best for particular vehicles, whether that’s high-grade gasoline, diesel, coal or electricity. To help that vehicle run, you need to give it the fuel its “body” prefers.
Probiotic supplements contain living bacteria, generally sourced from cows, goats or sheep in a dairy form. When you give a probiotic supplement to your pet, you are introducing a foreign strain of bacteria into the system. In our fuel example, this is like putting a low-grade gasoline into a high-performance car. Sure, it’ll get the car moving, but it won’t allow the vehicle to perform at its best.
Prebiotics are an ideal food source for your pet’s native, preferred strain of probiotics. Prebiotics cannot feed (penetrate the cell walls) unwanted bacteria.
Prebiotic supplements work to quickly shift the balance of beneficial bacteria to a healthy, natural state. Prebiotics will double your pet’s friendly bacteria every 20 minutes. So, in just three hours, 1,000 bacteria become over 5 million! This targeted feeding allows the beneficial bacteria to multiply, thrive and line the intestinal walls, while undesirable bacteria starves, has nowhere to attach and flush right through the system.
How do antibiotics interact with prebiotics and probiotics?
Antibiotics are intended to kill harmful bacteria in the pet’s system. Unfortunately, they often kill the beneficial microbes as well, including any introduced through a probiotic supplement. However, because prebiotics are not living, they are well-suited to support the digestive tract even during antibiotic use.